Criminals are using these new high-tech methods to steal cars in South Africa

 ·13 Dec 2022

Car manufacturer Toyota is providing free security updates to drivers in South Africa in a bid to counter increased levels of luxury vehicle theft in the country by tech-savvy criminals.

Toyota said that local automotive intelligence has found that criminals are now using sophisticated technology to target high-end and luxury vehicles featuring keyless or smart entry systems and emergency start capabilities.

The group identified three main methods through which criminals gain entry to and steal vehicles with these features in the country.

“The rise in these crimes has partly been attributed to increased vehicle usage since businesses re-opened after the Covid-19-induced lockdown, as well as a new modus operandi on the part of criminals and syndicates, such as keyless access theft,” it said.

While this phenomenon affects automotive brands across the board – as well as all makes of cars – Toyota South Africa said that it has been proactively conducting extensive research and development into the enhancement of its vehicle security systems.

The group’s research and development team found that highly sophisticated cyber-attacks are being used by thieves to exploit the vehicle’s computer-controlled systems.

These attacks include CAN Attacks, Fob Relaying and a combination of Forced Entry and Key Cloning.

  • The CAN Attack happens when the vehicle’s Control Area Network is infiltrated using highly sophisticated electronic equipment to gain entry and then access the computer system to start the engine.
  • Fob Relaying is achieved using high-tech receivers and transmitters to remotely read the vehicle’s security key whilst in the possession of the owner, thereby allowing the attacker to unlock and start the vehicle.
  • The third, a combination of Forced Entry and Key Cloning, is executed using advanced techniques and equipment to disable the vehicle’s alarm system and then cloning its security key.

Toyota said that it has now developed several measures to mitigate possible theft of Toyota and Lexus-branded vehicles in South Africa.

“These enhancement measures have already been shared with the Toyota dealer network through a series of practical online sessions and bulletins. In addition, the enhancements have also been reviewed and evaluated by VSS Administration – an independent South African organisation that specialises in vehicle security and automotive systems,” the group said.

Toyota customers who own certain models can take them to their nearest dealership for security enhancements from the first week of December.

The group said that all new vehicles, as well as those arriving at dealers for servicing, will automatically receive these enhancements. These will all be carried out at no cost to customers, it said.

Qualifying vehicles include:

  • Hilux Legend models from 2019;
  • All Fortuner models from 2016;
  • Land Cruiser Prado (VX and VXL models from 2017);
  • All Land Cruiser 200 with Smart Entry,
  • Land Cruiser 300 and
  • All Lexus RX and LX models from 2015.

Read: New tactic used by criminals to steal keyless cars in South Africa

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