Detectives are urging owners of cars with keyless entry systems in St Helens and Knowsley to be vigilant following a number of thefts of vehicles.
Offenders have cloned wireless key signals from car keys inside homes, enabling them to open the vehicle on the driveway, start the engine and drive the vehicle away. This means the criminal is able to avoid having to break into homes to steal key fobs.
In a 10-day period this month, there were 11 cases of cars with keyless entry systems being stolen in this way in the St Helens area. Many have occurred overnight and most are Ford vehicles.
Detective Constable Allan Lawley said: "We are doing all we can to tackle this issue and bring those responsible to justice, but there are simple, inexpensive steps owners of keyless entry cars can take to minimise the chances of their cars being stolen in this way.
"While keeping your keyless entry fobs out of sight or hidden is recommended, it does not stop it from being cloned.
"We are asking car owners to consider using a Faraday Bag/signal blocking case for their keys. These block the signal from the fob, are relatively inexpensive and are widely available.
"It is important however to research the product you are buying and once purchased check that they effectively block the signal.
"You can also keep your spare key in a foil lined, metal tin with a lid. Again, check the effectiveness of this.
"Additional physical security devices, such as mechanical steering locks, driveway posts, wheel clamps and trackers are also effective in protecting vehicles from thieves. If you have a vehicle that is not keyless, it would be advisable to park this in front of the keyless vehicle."
Other tips for keyless car owners include:
Anyone with information about vehicle crime is urged to DM @MerPolCC or message ‘Merseyside Police CC’ on Facebook. Alternatively, call Merseyside Police on 101, visit /contact-us/report-crime-online/report-a-crime-form/ and report the details there or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or via their online form at: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/give-information-online/