Hundreds of new cars, including four of the UK's five most popular, are highly susceptible to keyless theft, according to a new study.
Research conducted by consumer group Which? looked at 237 cars sold with keyless entry technology. Among these, researchers were able to open and start all but seven models using relay boxes, portable devices that can extend the signal sent from the key inside the owner's house.
The box fools the car into thinking the key is closer to it than it really is, allowing thieves to climb into the car, start it and drive away before the system realises the key isn't in proximity.
The hugely popular Ford Focus, Ford Fiesta (pictured), Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen Golf were all described as "highly vulnerable" by Which?. Of the seven cars that couldn't be started, four could still have their doors unlocked by the device.
The three cars that were not susceptible to relay boxes were the Range Rover, Land Rover Discovery and Jaguar I-Pace. Jaguar Land Rover has recently stepped up the security of its keyless models after a spate of widely reported thefts in the past few years.
Around 106,000 vehicle thefts were reported between March 2017 and March 2018 across England and Wales, which is the highest number since 2009.
Mike Hawes, chairman of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, claims that the latest security technology "has helped bring down theft dramatically with, on average, less than 0.3% of our cars on the roads stolen".