BMW owners offered fix for hi-tech theft

New software upgrade should eradicate the security issue highlighted by the BBC Watchdog programme

BMW key

BMW has finally reacted to the ongoing problem of the theft of its cars by thieves with hi-tech key cloning kit, as reported in Auto Express back in June and highlighted on the BBC Watchdog programme last week.

Thieves have been using the freely available gadgets to code their own keys to BMWs and drive away hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of cars. It has left many thousands of BMWs, built between 2007 and September last year, vulnerable to theft.

BMW has been working on a software upgrade to cars which will eradicate the problem for some months, and it’s now available to owners of affected X5 and X6 models. The upgrade will be available for other cars in around eight weeks' time.

A BMW spokesman confirmed that the upgrade will be carried out by dealers free of charge. Owners with affected cars should contact their BMW dealers or call BMW’s hotline on 0800 083 4397.

Auto Express reported on consultant Eric Gallina who had his BMW 335i stolen from outside his house in London. “What was most confusing was that both sets of keys were still in the house and there was no sign of broken glass,” said Gallina. “When the police arrived, they told me that nine other BMWs with keyless entry had been stolen in the Notting Hill area within the past month and a half.”

Thatcham, the motor insurance repair research centre, told us that the problem isn’t unique to BMW and could affect other cars. However, it laid part of the blame at EU competition regulations that insist that the car company’s hi-tech kit is made available to independent operators as well as franchised dealers.

Thatcham vehicle security chief, Mike Briggs told us: “Part of the problem is the access to these devices. All garages should be licenced and repair work logged on a database.”

Until the fix is available to all models, BMW’s website is offering some handy advice to owners which includes “Whereever possible park your car out of sight, in a locked garage or under the cover of CCTV cameras.”

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