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More victims of mysterious car break-ins come forward

PUBLISHED: 17:19 05 November 2009 | UPDATED: 10:33 03 January 2019

MOTORISTS across Hampstead and Highgate who are convinced that thieves have devices which enable them to unlock car doors, are calling on car manufacturers and police to take the problem seriously.

Last week the Ham&High reported how Hampstead resident Jenny Shulman believed thieves had the technology which allowed them to unlock the doors of her BMW car, after suffering numerous break-ins despite the car being secured.

Both police and car manufacturers were sceptical that any device existed or could be created but several other victims of the elusive thieves have contacted the Ham&High this week to support Ms Shulman's theory.

Belsize Road woman Gemma, who asked us not to print her surname, owns a car made by Ford and has experienced the same problem.

She has lost track of how many times she has been broken into and is sure she has locked her car every time.

She said: "Our car has been broken into several times despite my absolutely obsessive repeat checking of the car being locked and by my husband, who also checks that I have locked the car.

"I am 100 per cent sure the thieves have a device. One forensic officer unofficially admitted to me that she believes there is a device you can buy from Eastern Europe that can override the locks of certain makes of cars.

"I believe the police do not want to publically admit this problem as not only will it cause a national outcry about the lack of security of new cars, but it will also stop them being able to blame car owners for being careless.

"I am just hoping that someone, will eventually believe us."

Another woman, Angela, of South Hampstead, has also had her Volvo car broken into numerous times.

She said: "This is a large and growing problem, well known to the police and to the car manufacturers. My own Volvo has a sophisticated alarm system which, of course, Volvo like to say cannot be over-ridden - but it has been.

"My next door neighbours had their BMW opened on so many occasions that they ended up leaving the car open themselves, as it was completely pointless locking it. I know owners of Ford and Honda, whose cars have been 'opened' and rifled through in the last two months.

"The police would prefer to pretend that we, the owners, leave our cars unlocked. We most certainly do not. The car manufacturers, by acknowledging it, would also face loss of custom plus, presumably, huge expense in designing systems which cannot be over ridden."

Valerie Pewar of Cannon Hill, West Hampstead, has had her BMW car repeatedly broken into over the last six months but in her case the thieves were not just looking for her valuables.

Ms Pewar told the Ham&High: "Only last Wednesday I opened the car and found they had got in again. All the seats were right back, the drinks holders were out and the car was full of smoke. I think someone is getting in there and just sitting there or going to sleep or they might be drug dealing, who knows?

"I am not a fool. I do lock my car and double check it. I spoke to a local BMW dealer about it and they just said 'that's impossible'.

"I really think the car manufacturers should look in to this much more seriously.

"They seem to just push you to one side as a lot of these high end car dealers do once you have bought the vehicle."

John Newgas from Highgate told the Ham&High: "My car and two others belonging to neighbours close by have also been "broken into".

"One car was on a private estate, and had the items removed from the boot where they would not have been visible. The other has, according to its owner, had two or three thefts. The problem seems to particularly affect 5 Series BMW's which are between eight and 12 years old (Series E39)."

When the Ham&High contacted Ford a press spokesman was not aware of any devices thieves could use to open the manufacturers' vehicles.

But the spokesman admitted there were stories of thieves using other wireless or remote devices to block signals when owners press their key fobs. The thief would have to be in close proximity of the car but the result is the car owner walks away from the vehicle believing it is secure when in fact the doors remain open.

Ford advises drivers to listen out for the door locking sound, or check to see if the hazard lights flash, which most do when cars are locked.

The Ham&High had no response from BMW this week but last week a spokesman told us there was no issue over security of their cars and was not aware of any reports of cars being opened using specially created devices.

No one at Volvo was available for comment this week.

Det Insp Gary Randall from Camden Police told the Ham&High vehicle crime has gone down by over 14 per cent from last year.

He could not discuss the possibility of any devices having been created to break in to cars because of ''ongoing investigations''.

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