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Since the introduction of the immobilizer in 1998, a lot has changed among criminals.

Car thieves continue to find new ways to bypass security systems. Anyone who thinks that his or her car is safe from car theft these days may be disappointed. Stealing cars is no longer what it once was: a mess with wires under the steering wheel. Modern car thieves are much more sophisticated and often have advanced equipment at their disposal.

In the past, a screwdriver and a little technical knowledge were often enough to steal a car. Nowadays it's a completely different story. Car thieves now use digital scanners, signal boosters and other sophisticated equipment to unlock and start a car. In fact, once they get within arm's reach of a keyless car, it can take less than a minute to get away.


Technological developments make it increasingly difficult to catch car thieves red-handed. However, in some cases cooperation between different agencies is crucial. Such as recently in Vlissingen-Oost, where the Zeeland-West-Brabant Seaport Police, after a tip and in collaboration with Customs, found three cars stolen in the Netherlands on a ship destined for Africa. These types of collaborations demonstrate that the fight against car theft is far from over.

In this specific case, the cars were stolen in the Netherlands and shipped via Antwerp. The ship made a stop in Vlissingen-Oost, which gave the authorities the opportunity to intervene. Interestingly, the company where the ship was moored, as well as the ship and its crew, were not part of the criminal network. This shows how sophisticated and deceptive the methods of modern car thieves can be.

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The fact that theft methods have evolved so much from simple 'connecting wires' to hacking immobilizers indicates that the fight against car theft must be waged not only locally but also technologically.

Although the police are getting better at tracking down stolen cars, it is of course best to prevent theft. Thieves don't like to be seen. Therefore, always choose a well-lit parking spot and remove all valuables from view to make the car less attractive to potential thieves. 


The so-called 'Relay Attack' is a sophisticated method that uses modern technology against the owner. Using specialized equipment, thieves can extend the signal from the keyless entry key so that it appears as if the key is close to the car, even when it is actually inside the house. Once the signal has been “extended,” the thief can simply open the car, start it and drive away, often in less time than it takes to read this explanation.

Relay attack is a form of car theft without a key. Criminals bypass keyless entry security by extending the signal of the car key from the home. Relay Attack can be performed silently and very quickly and is therefore very popular among criminals.

A preventative measure is to keep car keys in a metal box or a specially designed key case that blocks radio signals. This makes it more difficult for thieves to capture and extend the key's signal. There are also more advanced solutions available, such as security systems that require two-step verification before the car can be started.

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The technological arms race between thieves and security experts is in full swing. As thieves find new ways to bypass security systems, manufacturers and independent developers are working on new methods to secure cars. For example, some modern cars are now equipped with sensors that detect unusual or suspicious activity around the car and alert the owner via an app on their smartphone.

Remember, car thieves continue to find new ways to bypass security systems. It is therefore essential that car owners and authorities continue to update their methods to stay one step ahead of theft. It's a constant game of cat and mouse, but one we can't afford to lose.

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