DRIVERS have been warned of a new THEFT scam which can strike when flogging your car online.
The chilling tactic by thieves has sparked a dramatic rise in the number of motors getting nicked from driveways as sellers opt to flog their cars through apps and websites such as AutoTrader.
Thieves are using a chilling tactic to steal cars right under the noses of sellersCredit: Getty
The problem comes as theft figures have soared to more than double the DVLA estimates, with 101,198 confirmed in 2021.
The theft starts with a prospective buyer coming to test drive your vehicle and see it in person.
The thief then finds a way to distract the seller.
Once attention is diverted, the car key is swapped with a fake one the criminal has brought with them.
The seller and prospective buyer then go their separate ways.
The thief later returns to the vehicle when the coast is clear, and using the stolen key, hops in the front and drives off.
The warning from experts at Nationwide Vehicle Contracts will spark concern amongst those who wish to sell their cars online.
But there are things you can do to protect yourself – and potentially save thousands.
David Johnson, automotive specialist and Director of Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, suggested never handing your keys over during the viewing.
He added the prospect buyer should also never be left unattended in the vehicle whilst it’s running – as this provides ample opportunity for a theft to take place.
Vehicle owners should also be sceptical about buyers plugging in diagnostic equipment into the car – these are machines which find potential problems in your motor.
And once the viewing is over the vehicle owner should check both keys look and act as normal.
If you think your car keys have been swapped – don’t panic.
Move your car so it’s in sight and maybe consider using an extra security feature like a steering wheel lock or clamp to be extra safe.
You should then visit a garage that is registered with your car manufacturer to get new keys cut.
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