Theft of keyless Ford Fiestas soar as crooks use electronic devices from eBay to break in

Britain's best-selling car – the Ford Fiesta – is being targeted by thieves who can override the keyless entry system using a £260 device available on eBay.

Cleveland Police said that it's had 90 reports of keyless vehicle theft since December – with half of them being Fiestas. It said each car was stolen using technology that bypasses keyless entry systems, meaning thieves don't need to steal keys from homes or smash windows to gain access.

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These devices are, quite worryingly, freely available to purchase on the internet for as little as £260. They work by gathering the signal from a keyless entry fob and extending it, allowing the car to unlock and start.

Whether the Fiesta is particularly susceptible or just particularly common is as yet unascertained. It's certainly prevalent – more than 4.5 million Fiestas have been sold since 1976, with over a million of those sold since 2008, when keyless entry first became an option.

The Fiesta has been the best-selling car in the UK virtually without interruption for four years.

Vehicle theft in general has risen sharply in the last three years – a leap of over 30 per cent in 2016 compared with 2013. Police in Warwickshire reported the largest rise, with vehicle thefts up by 189 per cent.

Precautions against keyless car theft can be taken, though. It's best to keep your keyless fob away from doors or windows, and special signal-blocking pouches can be purchased. The old-fashioned steering lock is making a comeback, and as always, it's important to make sure you have the latest security software from your car's dealer.

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