Eastbourne woman raises key jammer fears

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An Eastbourne woman has raised fears thieves using car key blockers may be in the area after a curious incident at a supermarket this afternoon (Thursday).

The report follows a warning from the National Police Chiefs' Council, who say tech-savvy thieves are using the devices to target unwary drivers.

Elsewhere in the UK there have been reports of thieves using the jammers, which can have a very large range, to prevent drivers locking their cars before stealing valuables or the car itself.

Eastbourne bus driver Rachel Hescott, 55, says she believes someone using the technology may have been somewhere in the area of the Lottbridge Drove Tesco store.

Miss Hescott says her car keys and those of several other customers stopped working for around five minutes at around 2.45pm this afternoon.

She said: "Me and two other cars couldn't get our keys to work. The others were locked out of their cars and couldn't get them open. I was already sat in mine but I couldn't get it to go, as I have an electric starter. One of the other drivers said he'd put fresh batteries in that morning.

"I had heard about scanners that block the key signal and I wouldn't have thought much about it but it seems too much of a coincidence. It had to be one of them."

Speaking to the BBC earlier this month Deputy Chief Constable Matt Jukes, from the National Police Chiefs' Council, said the use of jammers is very rare but is a "growing feature of vehicle crime".

He said: "The Vehicle Crime Intelligence Unit is working closely and extensively with a number of partners including the Home Office and motor manufacturers on solutions to prevent this crime now and in the future.

"It is essential that people remain vigilant against this kind of electronic breach.

"We urge people to keep a close watch on their cars and possessions so as not to offer any incentives to criminals, including manually checking that the vehicle is locked and taking any valuables with you when leaving the vehicle unattended."

A Sussex Police spokesman said this afternoon that the force has not received any recent reports of incidents involving key fob jammers.

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