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“Two men jailed for roles in £1m Mercedes Sprinter van theft conspiracy” Our take on this story from the Eastern Daily Press

Posted 06/16/20 by Joe Mckay

As one of the Midlands leading automotive locksmiths, we are constantly looking for ways to keep your vehicles more secure. Particularly those that provide a livelihood for their owners such as vans for carpenters, builders, electricians and tradesmen of all kinds. We came across this story about a huge and well organised spate of van thefts in Lowestoft.

Lowestoft Police
Lowestoft Police in actoion

The article here suggests that the vans were stolen simply by “being delicately broken into overnight, their ignition barrels stolen and driven to London and duplicated. These would then be driven back to the region and refitted into the vans, allowing them to be started up and driven away under false licence plates.” The pair that were implicated in these thefts managed to steal £15,000 worth of equipment from one vehicle alone.

Although we applaud Eastern Daily Press for raising this issue, as experts in this field we feel that this may in fact have been an even more elaborate and complicated act of theft, as simply changing the barrels of the locks with new ones would activate the vehicles immobiliser, rendering it undriveable.

What they have in fact done is remove the entire ignition unit and used specialist diagnostic equipment and software. This type of van theft is difficult to carry out without specialist equipment and although automotive locksmith suppliers within the UK carry out extremely thorough background checks on their clients, there is a need for government intervention to prevent these types of tools being imported freely (as they are currently) from Chinese traders on Alibaba, who have little if any vetting procedures. This, however, may take years to legislate so these types of thefts are likely to continue.

Ignition Guard
Ignition Guard fitted to Mercedes Sprinter Vav

This unfortunately is not the only security flaw within Mercedes Sprinter vans. It is also possible to remove the plastic wheel arch at the front of the vehicle which exposes the ECU (Electric Control Unit). Thieves are forcibly removing the two electric plugs and plugging in a second ECU with a matched key, allowing them to press the unlock button on the matched key which will unlock the van and turn off the alarm system. We also offer protection against this form of theft with our ECU Guard.

ECU Gaurd
ECU Guard used to protect Electronic Control Unit on Sprinter Van

So, If you are concerned about your livelihood locked in your van. 3D Autokeys have a range of security measures that can prevent your van or your tools from being stolen and you becoming a victim of van theft. We even supply specialist ignition guards to prevent just this type of theft. If you would like to get a quote for install simply go here

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