Police Chiefs

Police chiefs urge online retailers to remove car-theft gadgets

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Police chiefs have criticised Amazon and eBay for selling cut price hacking devices which enable users to break into and steal cars in just a few seconds. The gadgets can be purchased on the internet ecommerce sites for as little as £100 and are believed to have played a major part in growing rates of car theft and other related crimes across the UK.

The latest news highlights how important it is to get the right motor trade insurance to cover vehicles stored on premises, especially as the cutting edge devices continue to be sold online. Police chiefs say the failure to take listings down is “irresponsible” and a crime commissioner wants urgent action to be taken to curb soaring car theft incidents.

A total of 86,000 cars were stolen in 2016, which is a 30% uptick on the figure from 2013. The police say the car key fobs, which allow users to get a car’s ignition up and running by reprogramming a blank fob, have effectively made vehicle theft “child’s play”.

Rates of car theft had actually been in decline during the early 2010s as the introduction of alarm systems, tracking devices and other new tech made it harder for third parties to break in. But newer electronic gadgets have turned the tide back towards criminals, who are now able to outsmart manufacturers and police.

The car theft epidemic means anyone with a motor trade business should urgently look at getting the right combined motor trade insurance policy for the right level of cover and peace of mind. In response to demands from police chiefs, eBay said it has a policy in place to prohibit the sale of lock-picking devices, and will continue to remove any new listings, however Amazon declined to comment.

“We have a problem”, West Midland police and crime commissioner, David Jamieson said. “We are back to the bad old days. In the last two years car theft has been going through the roof and showing no signs of getting smaller. Somebody could have bought a gizmo, ordered it last night, have it delivered this morning and be stealing your car with it today.”

He added: I’m saying to those companies these devices shouldn’t be openly on the market for sale. I have written to both eBay and Amazon asking them to remove the sale of these devices off their websites. EBay did tell me that they would take them off, however we found that they were all still on the website the following morning.”

“I am challenging those people who are providing these pieces of equipment as to why they are still providing them.” Jamieson concluded that these outlets were essentially helping criminals break the law.

A Home Office spokesman also revealed that there are currently not any plans to introduce new regulations in regards to relay attack devices and key programmers as there needs to be a “strong evidence base”.

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