Online retailers 'irresponsible' for selling car theft tool, police say
Police have called on Amazon and eBay to stop selling hi-tech tools which are feared to be helping drive up vehicle thefts.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has written to the online internet giants to say it "is not responsible" for them to openly sell a key programmers tool which has become a favourite among criminals.
They work by taking information from the car's on-board computer, before uploading it to a blank key.
Once the new key has been cloned the criminal can drive off with the car.
Mr Jamieson urged the firms to ban the devices as vehicle thefts are now reaching epidemic proportions.
The tools are legal and are often used legitimately by car mechanics, auto locksmiths and dealers but they are also of interest to criminals, according to Mr Jamieson.
In his letter, he states: "I feel strongly that we need to limit the sale of these devices to people with a legitimate reason to buy them and to keep them out of the hands of criminals.
"The mass market is not the place for this kind of technology and innocent car owners in the West Midlands and beyond are paying the price.
"I hope Amazon and eBay agree with me that it is not responsible for these items to be sold openly on its sites.
"I would also encourage the firms to review all items sold to ensure no others are helping criminals steal cars."
He notes the number of cars stolen in the West Midlands force area has nearly doubled in the last two years.
Police records show there were 5,344 cars stolen in 2015 and 9,451 cars stolen in 2017, Mr Jamieson said.
A spokesman for eBay said: "We have banned the sale of these types of items on our site, and our policies in this area are stricter than UK law requires.
"The safety of our customers is our number one priority, and we work closely with law enforcement authorities and sellers to ensure that we have the right restrictions in place."
An Amazon spokesman said they declined to comment on the issue.