After his brand new Range Rover was stolen, a Co Armagh father of two has warned keyless car drivers to be extra vigilant.
Raymond Younge was asleep at his home in Donaghcloney when a gang of thieves struck in the early hours of July 4.
Security conscious, Mr Younge had the incident recorded on CCTV. It captured the gang using a sophisticated electronic device to override his keyless fob - which he had tucked in his trousers’ pocket upstairs in his bedroom.
Despite the fob being a good distance from his £62,500 top of the range vehicle, the bandits managed to override the system and open his Range Rover.
Earlier that night another car was stolen in Portadown and used by the thieves to travel to Donaghcloney.
This week, PSNI Inspector Brian Mills said: “Detectives are investigating a series of keyless car thefts in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon area. The offences are largely being committed in the Portadown, Waringstown and Donaghcloney areas.
“Organised Crime Gangs are behind these offences. They use portable electronic equipment to amplify and transmit the signal from an electronic car key inside your house to your vehicle parked in your driveway. They are then able to drive your car away. Please be vigilant and take extra security measures.”
Around 3am on Thursday morning thieves were thwarted from stealing another keyless car - just weeks after Mr Younge’s vehicle was stolen from the same village.
Police were on the scene in minutes and the suspects fled.
In a post by the Donaghcloney Events Team, they said: “Around 3am this morning criminals attempted to break into a residential garage in Donaghcloney to steal another KeyLess entry car. Police were on the scene in minutes.
“Please be vigilant report any suspicious cars, (colour, reg number, number of persons)day or night and listen out for unusual dog barking as this could be a warning of strangers around. Please report at once to 101 or if you see anything unusual or suspect a crime is being committed call 999.”
Mr Younge said the theft has turned his family life upside down but he is grateful no one was hurt.
“It was only five months old and it was parked on my driveway. Luckily I had CCTV to prove what happened,” he said.
Mr Younge said his wife was very distressed about what had happened but he is thankful no one was hurt during the robbery.
“It’s only a motor. It could have been worse,” he said.
The 40-year-old added he would never have a keyless car again.
He urged those who have keyless cars to take extra precautions by getting a special pouch which can protect against such electronic theft -in a similar way that special wallets protect against theft from contactless bank cards.
DUP Cllr Mark Baxter said: “I’m becoming increasingly concerned about the recent car thefts and attempted car thefts in Donacloney.
“I’ve contacted police early this morning and awaiting a call back to arrange a meeting to discuss. I’d ask folk to stay vigilant. These guys seem to be very brazen and seem to know exactly what they are doing.”
At that time of the theft of Mr Younge’s car, Chief Inspector Tim Flanigan said: “At around 8am, it was reported to police that a number of people arrived at a house in the area driving a dark coloured BMW X5 vehicle.
“They exited the car, unlocked a Range Rover vehicle parked nearby with a handheld device. It is reported the vehicle unlocked and the persons were able to make off from the scene in both vehicles towards the Donaghcloney village area following the incident.
“Police believe the BMW X5 vehicle driven by the persons was stolen from a property at the Gannon Lodge area of Craigavon sometime between 8pm on Wednesday 3rd July and 9:15am on Thursday 4th July.
“We would take this opportunity to warn vehicle owners that with advances in technology, thieves are now able to gain access to your vehicle by redirecting the wireless signal from your key fob.”