It’s The Hand, Not The Tool In It….


Police today accuse Amazon and eBay of fuelling a car crime ‘epidemic’ by selling gadgets that allow thieves to hack into keyless vehicles.

They are urging the internet giants to ban the sale of the devices in an attempt to crack down on soaring levels of a crime that had been declining.

Police are particularly concerned about ‘key programmers’, which can be bought for less than £30 on Amazon and eBay and can clone the fobs used in keyless cars.

Criminals also use ‘relay boxes’, which can be bought on the websites for £260. These let thieves pick up the signal from a car’s fob inside the owner’s home.

So these have no legitimate use?

David Jamieson, police and crime commissioner of the West Midlands, has written to Amazon and eBay saying ‘items advertised on your site … are seriously contributing to an increase in car thefts’.

He added: ‘Vehicle theft is now becoming an epidemic. I am therefore asking you to stop selling devices known as key programmers.

‘These key cloning tools, whilst legal and often used legitimately by car mechanics, auto locksmiths and dealers, are also increasingly used by criminals.’

Ah. Of course, they do have a legitimate use.

I guess if this works, Cressida will be writing to Sainsbury & Tesco to stop selling knives. And then Ford and BMW to stop selling cars. Then the police can just sit around with their feet up trawling Facebook for hurty words.

Police are also furious that car makers refuse to take responsibility for the rise in keyless fob hacking.

Executives from firms including Ford, Audi and Mercedes have been summoned to a meeting with West Midlands Police next week to discuss the matter.

They should tell them they are washing their hair. Jesus wept, who the hell are they to summon anyone who has committed no crime?

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said new technology in cars ‘has helped bring down theft dramatically … [but] we continue to call for stronger safeguards to prevent the sale of cloning technologies, signal blocking and other devices that have no legal purpose.

Can’t you read, Mike? They do have a legal purpose!

Last night eBay said it had already banned the sale of these devices despite police finding them on its website.

It added that anyone who put them up for sale could have them removed and action taken against them.

Amazon declined to comment.

I’m with Amazon. If there’s a problem with these items then, like guns, it’s in the hands of the one wielding them, not the tool itself.

9 comments for “It’s The Hand, Not The Tool In It….

  1. Penseivat
    April 11, 2018 at 11:59 am

    You buy a £20,000 plus car only to discover that some little sh*t has stolen it using a £30 gadget. So, what can you do to prevent it? You could go and spend a further £30 yourself and buy a mechanical gadget that locks the steering wheel, or the gear lever, that prevents it being driven away; you could ensure that your car keys/fob/whatever are kept nowhere near the front door; you could put a clamp on a wheel or, you could use one of those anti-theft devices that Roger Moore (as James Bond) used, which blows up anyone within a 15 feet radius – if you’re within 15 feet of someone trying to steal a car, you deserve everything you get. The point is, if you have an expensive toy, you make that extra effort to look after it – either that, or buy a Dacia Sandero!

  2. AndrewM60
    April 11, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    Garbage. This is easy to regulate.

    The only way that you can buy or possess one of these devices is if you are licensed to perform MOT testing. Scrappers, motor vehicle storage companies at airports, parking companies, baliffs, repo-men and Pakis under a railway arch are not permitted to own them – All the “legtimate” reasons are dismissed: They have to contract with a garage or car dealer where the action can be lodged in the same fashion as car radio codes and for scrap metal sales. – Scrap metal dealers are licensed and car repossession, in it’s way, is a form of scrap metal trading, which in this case requires that you produce a V5 as proof of ownership, as well as do the transaction electronically – Cash in hand sales for scrap metal are illegal and police do do sting operations in respect to it.

    Any other situation involving sale or possession of these devices is a criminal offence. If they are being sold online, the retailer can be prosecuted as an accomplice – They are effectively colluding with criminal activity by not checking that you are licensed, and given the size of these companies, they will choose not to allow it rather than deal with the hassle.

    The fact that government and the police cannot apparently summon up the motivation to do any of this is yet another illustration of how little they can be bothered,

    • Mudplugger
      April 11, 2018 at 4:58 pm

      You mean regulate it like they do the supply of number plates, where you have to produce the V5 and lots of ID to get them?
      Or alternatively, you buy ‘show plates’ on-line, sourced through an order-taker in Ireland, which are then made by an agent local to you (quite legally) and delivered by post or even by hand – that was successful regulation, wasn’t it? And they’re even cheaper than going to a legit maker.
      Trying to regulate the supply of such items against the on-line global market-place is pissing in the wind.

    • Errol
      April 11, 2018 at 9:02 pm

      Yet you’re missing the point that it is the job of the police to prevent crime, not to whine and blame other people for perpetrating it.

      Yes, they might be better regulated, but as the article states, what next? Controlling the sale of screwdrivers? Knives? I’d better get my scalpel blades in now before you stop me being able to buy them.

    • ivan
      April 12, 2018 at 11:57 am

      Andrew, you are missing the point. These devices have a legitimate use even in the hands of the general public and the use of them for setting/resetting car key fobs is only one of those uses.

      Legislation will never be the answer to this and many other things like gun control for the simple reason that you end up with with only the criminals having such items which exacerbates the problems the law is trying to solve.

      In this case the police should stop winging and get up out of their cars and go back to the old fashioned ‘feet on the beat’ policing to prevent crime before it happens rather than arriving some time after. In other words they should be doing the job they are employed to do.

  3. Hereward Unbowed.
    April 11, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    lets go back to Ford’s Dag’ dustbins, one key fits all.

  4. Pcar
    April 11, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    @AndrewM60, April 11, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    …possess one of these devices is if you are licensed to perform MOT testing…

    Interesting belief.

    MOT tester checks chassis, lighting, suspension, brakes, tyres & emissions. Why would he need a key or ecu programming/adaptation/registration tool?

    I sense a lack of understanding of vehicle electronics, similar to SMMT.

    This is a self-inflicted problem by EU & auto manufacturers going hi-tech/IoT without exploring negative consequences.

    Late 80s thru 90s cars were secure, safe & economical.

  5. Ted Treen
    April 12, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    Our family vehicle – which we’ve had for over five years now – is a V-plated Hyundai Atoz which we bought (with a genuine 34k on the clock) for the extravagant sum of £600.

    Its locks appear pretty secure, the car is still in excellent condition – now nearing 60k on the clock – but it would rate very low on any miscreant’s desirability list.

    Just another way of keeping the ungodly at bay. Although one could always keep rattlesnakes on the back seat.

    • Pcar
      April 12, 2018 at 10:43 pm


      Well done. Reliable, cheap to run, minimal depreciation and a car-park dent can be shrugged off.

      My daily driver 1992-2009 was an 87 Rover 820i, ~160,000 miles – initial cost was £800, replacement parts over the period was around same over ~150,000 miles.

      Replaced in 2009 with a 1993 820 Vitesse – cost £0.00

      Porkie is for weekends (as is ZZR), business meetings, weddings etc and it has negative depreciation.

      All repairs/maintenance are DIY.

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