Four out of the five of the UK’s best-selling car models are susceptible to keyless theft, new research claims.
Consumer group Which? said the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf, Nissan Qashqai and Ford Focus are all at risk.
The other car in the top five – the Vauxhall Corsa – was considered to be safe from attacks since it does not feature keyless entry and start.
Keyless thefts occur when criminals use a device to trick a car into thinking a key is within range, allowing thieves to open the vehicle and start the ignition.
Only three models, all made by Jaguar Land Rover, were not susceptible at all, meaning 99% of the cars tested had some form of security flaw.
Which? based its report on data from the General German Automobile Club (ADAC), a roadside recovery organisation.
“Thieves have been using keyless theft – also known as the relay attack – for several years, but manufacturers continue to make new models that can be stolen in this way, meaning there is an ever-larger pool of vehicles for thieves to target,” Which? said.
Harry Rose, editor of Which? Magazine, said: “With more than one car being stolen every seven minutes, it’s important that people can feel confident in the security of their vehicle.
“The fact that so many cars on the road are susceptible to keyless theft simply isn’t good enough. We want manufacturers to up their game when it comes to making their vehicles safe from theft.”
But the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said new cars were “more secure than ever”.
Its chief executive Mike Hawes told Sky News: “Industry takes vehicle crime extremely seriously and any claims otherwise are categorically untrue.
“New cars are more secure than ever, and the latest technology has helped bring down theft dramatically with, on average, less than 0.3% of the cars on our roads stolen.
“Criminals will always look for new ways to steal cars; it’s an ongoing battle and why manufacturers continue to invest billions in ever more sophisticated security features – ahead of any regulation.
“However, technology can only do so much and we continue to call for action to stop the open sale of equipment with no legal purpose that helps criminals steal cars.”
As many as 82,000 vehicles were stolen in England and Wales between April 2017 and March 2018.
Many of these thefts occurred in cities, with the highest-risk areas including the West Midlands, London and Greater Manchester.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, said: “Thefts involving electronic devices are on the up, and it’s clear manufacturers could do more to make their vehicles secure.”