European gang of car thieves who targeted Mercedes cars with KEYLESS GO systems busted

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Polish police arrest and dismantle a gang of Mercedes car thieves who targeted cars fitted with KEYLESS-GO system

The Polish authorities collaborated with German law enforcement authorities to bring down one of the biggest car thieves network in Europe. They were supported by Europol with intelligence. The car thieves gang targeted Mercedes cars fitted with KEYLESS-GO systems in Germany. Once they gained the entry to the Keyless Go fitted Mercedes car, they would ship it to Poland where it would be dismantled and stripped for its parts. The gang would then sell the parts all over the world.

On the night of 16th July, the Polish National Police (Policja) and German authorities from Baden Württemberg (Landeskriminalamt), raided several apartments and hideouts of the car thieves gang. The raids led to the discovery of several thousand car parts. the car parts had their identification numbers removed but the authorities were able to able to identify and link several car parts to the 13 stolen vehicles from Germany and Poland. The police also found drugs, ammunition, and electronic equipment during the raid.

Europol said that the gang was well-organized and only stole high-value cars equipped with KEYLESS-GO systems. The authorities said that the thieves hacked into the KEYLESS-GO and engine starting system with a hacking gadget. Once stolen, the cars were moved to Poland where they were immediately dismantled.

The group is suspected of stealing at least 34 vehicles worth more than $1.6 million. The cars were primarily stolen in the German region of Heilbronn. Several actions in November 2019 resulted in the arrests of seven suspected members of the network.  In May and June 2020, two Polish nationals believed to be the leaders of the group were arrested in Norway and Poland.

Europol supported the investigation by facilitating information exchange and providing analytical support. Europol’s forensic experts will now study the hacking gadget used by the car thieves to hack into Mercedes KEYLESS-GO systems.

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