PCC writes to major online retailers urging them to stop selling products helping criminals steal vehicles

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has written to Amazon and Ebay calling on them to take down products which are helping criminals steal cars. 

'Key Programmers', which are listed on both the sites, are tools that are increasingly being used by criminals. Whilst legal and often used legitimately by car mechanics, auto locksmiths and dealers, the devices are also falling into the hands of criminals. 

They work by taking information from the car's on-board computer, before uploading it to a blank key. Once the new key has been cloned the criminal can drive off with the car. 

In the last two years the number of cars stolen in the West Midlands force area has doubled. According to police records, in 2015 there were 5,344 cars stolen. In 2017 there were 9,451 cars stolen. 

Vehicle theft is now becoming an epidemic and is placing a significant burden on police time.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, said,
"I feel strongly that we need to limit the sale of these devices to people with a legitimate reason to buy them and to keep them out of the hands of criminals. 

"The mass market is not the place for this kind of technology and innocent car owners in the West Midlands and beyond are paying the price. 

"I hope Amazon and Ebay agree with me that it is not responsible for these items to be sold openly on its sites. 

"I would also encourage the firms to review all items sold to ensure no others are helping criminals steal cars."

The full text of the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner's letter to Amazon and Ebay:
I write to you regarding a number of items advertised on your site which are seriously contributing to an increase in car thefts in the UK.

As the Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands I am extremely concerned about the increase in car thefts. In the last two years the number of cars stolen in the West Midlands force area has doubled. According to police records, in 2015 there were 5,344 cars stolen. In 2017 there were 9,451 cars stolen.

Vehicle theft is now becoming an epidemic and is placing a significant burden on police time. I am therefore asking you to stop selling devices known as 'key programmers'. These key cloning tools, whilst legal and often used legitimately by car mechanics, auto locksmiths and dealers, are also increasingly being used by criminals to steal cars. They work by taking information from the car's on-board computer, before uploading it to a blank key. Once the new key has been cloned the criminal can drive off with the car.

I feel strongly that we need to limit the sale of these devices to people with a legitimate reason to buy them and to keep them out of the hands of criminals. The mass market is not the place for this kind of technology and innocent car owners in the West Midlands and beyond are paying the price.

I hope you agree that it is not responsible for these items to be sold openly on your site. I would also encourage you to review all items on your site that might be helping criminals steal cars.

I eagerly await your response.
 
Yours Sincerely

David Jamieson
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner