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UK Car Thieves Hacking BMWs

July 12, 2012

Surveillance video posted on a BMW forum may explain a rash of BMW thefts in the UK back in March. The less than four-minute video shows car thieves using a device that plugs into a BMW’s onboard diagnostic port and driving away with the vehicle without activating its alarm or immobilizer.

The video, posted by a member of 1ADDICTS, part of BIMMERPOST.com blog, shows car thieves hacking into and driving away in a $52,443.84 BMW 1M in less than three minutes. Several reports are linking the video to more than 300 BMWs stolen in the UK back in March.

“The thieves accomplished this by accessing the BMW OBD port in the footwell by breaking the glass, reaching in and using a device to reprogram a blank key fob,” wrote the victim who goes by the moniker stolen1M. “The car was simply unlocked and pushed off the drive and driven away.”

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Several technology publications such as WIRED and NETWORLD have written about the video, the encryption device used by the thieves, and about possible vulnerabilities in BMW’s smart key.  The thread on 1ADDICTS also shows several video posts showing the devices allegedly used in the thefts.

A BMW UK media specialist made the following statement to Gawker Media’s Jalopnik: “We are aware of recent claims that criminal gangs are targeting premium vehicles from a variety of manufacturers. This is an area under investigation.”

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