Car stolen from Suria KLCC valet parking without the key – thief already caught; what actually happened?

Car stolen from Suria KLCC valet parking without the key – thief already caught; what actually happened?

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Over the weekend, a man who goes by the name Zach Khai Shin on Facebook parked his car via the Suria KLCC mall valet and when he wanted to retrieve the car half an hour later, the white Honda HR-V was nowhere to be found.

The owner took to social media to share his plight, saying that while the keys were with the valet staff, the car had vanished. He added that the according to the car’s GPS tracker, it was already in Subang and the police were investigating the case.

Suria KLCC has since released an official statement to explain their side of the story. The mall acknowledged that “a vehicle entrusted to the valet service was stolen despite being securely parked by the valet attendant”.

“Upon notification, we immediately launched a comprehensive investigation in cooperation with the authorities. Together with the police, we reviewed CCTV footage, which revealed that an unidentified individual entered the car and drove it away while the car key remained securely stored at the valet counter. Utilising our CCTV footage and the car’s GPS system, the suspect has since been apprehended,” the statement explained.

So, it’s clear that the car was not stolen by the valet staff, and the key was in their possession throughout. “This is an unprecedented event for our valet parking service operator, as nothing of this nature has happened before,” the mall’s statement said, adding that valet SOPs will be reviewed following this incident.

What actually happened and how did the thief get access to the car without the keys? It could have been a ‘relay attack’, a digital theft technique where criminals exploit vulnerabilities in keyless entry and start systems.

In relay theft, the thief stands within proximity of the vehicle and uses a device to relay received signals to his accomplice with a second device, which then ‘communicates’ with the key fob and gets a response from it. This fools the car’s keyless entry system into thinking that the owner is nearby, unlocking the car. Sounds simple, but it would still need pretty slick planning.

Kudos to the police and mall security team for their fast action. What can car owners do to protect our vehicles from these silent thieves? Nothing much unfortunately, except for having a vehicle telematics system that tracks your car’s location and shows it on your phone. Zach’s Honda HR-V likely had the Honda Connect system to help the authorities track down the car so quickly.

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