The roll-out of standard-fit keyless entry systems on Ford Fiestas has been blamed for a rise in thefts of Britain’s best-selling car by thieves who can exploit the technology.
A report by The Mirror newspaper highlighted that half of the 90 vehicles stolen in one police force area during December last year were versions of the hatchbacks, which generated 59,380 sales for Ford last year.
The cars were reportedly taken with the use of a device which allows security features to be bypassed.
Police in the Cleveland Police area, where 27 people have now been arrested in connection with the thefts, have been advising Fiesta owners to visit their local dealership to seek advice about security updates for the vehicles.
But a spokesman for Ford suggested that this was not the official advise, instead advising Fiesta owners to take greater care when storing their keys to avoid such incidents.
The spokesman said that all keyless-entry vehicles were potentially vulnerable to such thefts, but added “We just sell the most”.
The Fiesta has had a keyless entry and engine starting system in place since 2008. The system is standard Titanium trim and above, he said, adding “The volume of our cars has reached a huge mass”.
Security experts believe thieves use remote locking jammers to target cars, ensuring a vehicle remains unlocked so that they can easily gain n access once the car is unattended.
Ford’s spokesman advised customers to check their car is locked when walking away (with wing mirrors folded in), adding: “Then store fob in metal box of shielded pouch to prevent interference.”
The Mirror reported that, out of the 27 arrests in the Cleveland Police area, six of the men arrested were charged with theft of a motor vehicle and 16 men, aged 15-to-49, had been released pending investigation. Five were released without charge.