New car security rating system lets buyers know how easily thieves can steal keyless vehicles

  • Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

A new ratings system has been developed to let car buyers know how easily their keyless cars can be broken into.

The guide, released by Thatcham Research, shows some of this year's most popular car models as having "poor" security.

Zuffar Haq who had his keyless Range Rover stolen told ITV News: "Technology has moved on over the last 20 years but security seems to be going backwards instead of forwards. It doesn't really make any sense."

  • What is the ratings system?

The new ratings place cars in five categories based on its security: superior, good, basic, poor and unacceptable.

Thatcham Research said some manufacturers have addressed the security problems in their newer models and added that the system is aimed at helping customers decide which cars to buy.

Chief Technical Officer Richard Billyeald told ITV News he hopes the new ratings system will arm the public with "choice and knowledge" before they buy a car.

He said:"It's about understanding how risky a vehicle is, what features has it got fitted and what risk does that pose."

  • How do different car models fare based on the ratings system?

Model that received a "poor" rating include: Ford Mondeo, Hyundai Nexo, Kia ProCeed, Lexus UX, Porsche Macan and Toyota Corrolla.

Cars that came out with a superior rating include: Audi E-Tron, Land Rover Evoque and Mercedes-Benz B-Class.

  • How do thieves exploit a vulnerable keyless car system?

According to Thatcham Research thieves often operate in pairs with one person carrying a relay device.

When the device is placed near the house it can gather the signals radiated by the car's keyless fob.

These signals are then relayed back to the car and tricks it into thinking the key is present, allowing the thieves access to the car.

  • How have manufacturers responded to the new ratings system?

The trade association for the UK's motor industry has said it has "serious concerns" about the new guidance from Thatcham Research.

In a statement the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said "technology can only do so much" and called for a ban on devices that enable "criminals to steal cars".

The statement read: "We have serious concerns about this new consumer guidance system, which has been developed in isolation and appears to be at odds with Thatcham’s own insurance classification.

"It does not compare like with like, failing to differentiate vehicles with keyless and traditional entry systems in a combined rating and failing to distinguish between different model grades and specifications."