Car thieves in South Africa decodes car manufacturers' e-device to steal cars

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Police In South Africa has discovered a new wave of car theft whereby thieves use the same device by manufacturers to get a car ignited when the key is lost,  to carry out nefarious car stealing activities

Police claimed an electronic device used by auto manufacturers to jump-start a vehicle when the owners have lost the ignition key, is increasingly being used by criminals to steal cars.

Dubbed “magic start”, Pietermaritzburg police say especially Toyotas are being targeted – including Hiluxes and Fortunas.

Detective Sergeant Amith Budhram explained how thieves steal vehicles using “magic start”, which he described as a computer-like box with three wires coming from the sides.

“The box is used by car manufacturers to start cars when the owner has lost the key, but now the criminals have got their hands on them.

“Every car key that was manufactured after 2000 has a microchip that is unique to that car and carries the information of that car.”

“When the driver inserts the key in the ignition the microchip is quickly read and if the information is correct a signal is sent to the car’s computer, which is the brain of the car that enables all the controls to function.”

The criminals are using the “magic start” device to bypass this process.

“What they do is plug the ‘magic start’ into the car’s electronics and the battery and start the car, bypassing the computer.”

Budhram said the police suspect that criminals are using the remotes for gates to jam vehicle remotes to prevent the doors from locking and then open the hood, wire up the “magic start” and drive off with the vehicle.