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That Shiny New BMW Of Yours? Yeah… Turns Out It’s Pretty Easy To Steal

By David Ponce

The newer generations of BMW’s have keys that would appear to make theft pretty hard to accomplish. There’s really no way to start the car without them, and since they’re encoded right at the dealership (with blanks sent over from Germany), no one but you has access to them. The encryption is strong, so they can’t be hacked… and yet… Turns out that some enterprising thieves have found a way to steal a new BMW in less than 90 seconds. The ways this is done is by purchasing a key encoder, which is sold on the black market in some parts of Europe for $8,000 or thereabouts. They then smash the driver’s side window and attach this encoder from the outside to the ODB-II port, which is not password protected. It appears that the cars’ alarm system has a blind spot right in front of the ODB-II port, so sticking your arm inside doesn’t seem to trigger anything. From there it’s just a matter of programming a blank (which the miscreants also appear to be able to acquire, although an old fob can also be reprogrammed) and leaving with the car, making use of their newly minted keyfob. This seems to affect every BMW, from the 1-series to the X6.

BMW’s official response? “Yeah, we know about this. And guess what, it’s a problem all premium, luxury cars face. (Not in those actual words.)” So, uh, looks like BMW won’t do much for you. Maybe keep a dog next to your car at night?

Anyway, hit the jump for a video of a car being stolen using this method, and another of a key being programmed with one of the illicit encoders.

[ Jalopnik ] VIA [ Gizmologia ]







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  • http://twitter.com/EditUndo42 Name

    Ok, lets define easy. Better yet, lets define what isn’t easy: 1) Buying a key encoder, I’m guessing they are not for sale on eBay, and odds are my attempts at finding the mystical “black market” would be similar to the scene in Horrible Bosses where they ask their onstar equivalent to take them to an area with the highest crime rate and proceed to ask someone advice how to commit a felony; 2) Acquiring a key fob, sure you could steal one, but then why not just steal the one for the car you are taking, and if they are able to somehow get blanks then that means they must have access to the infamous black market (see above); 3) Breaking the car window, not to say that this isn’t feasible, but despite the fact that I have broken many car windows in video games, I’ve never actually broken a real car window (have you?). And finally, don’t all of these cars have lojack in them? If I’m paying the sticker price for all of these premium cars they damn well better.

  • Ispep_Teid

    Those owners all have insurance. They’ll pay their $500 deductible (which is cheaper than Lojack) and get a replacement car.