Immobilisers take one minute to crack

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The Independent Online

Half the 18 mechanical car immobilisers examined in a security test took experts less than three minutes 20 seconds to overcome. And of those nine weaker devices, five took under a minute to crack, researchers for What Car? found.

The steering wheel or gear lever locks, which cost from £14.99 to £217, had to withstand a maximum five-minute attack by testers armed with tools readily available from hardware and DIY stores.

It took 16 seconds to get through the £19.99 Autolok Original, 17 seconds to overcome the Teknix steering wheel lock, 58 seconds to crack the £60 Double lock, and 51 seconds to beat the Autolok Protector and the Bulldog Euro clamp, which finished bottom overall despite costing £74.

The products were also judged on value for money, ease of fitting and visual deterrence, those being most clearly visible from outside the car scoring highest. Best of the bunch were Autolok 2000, retailing at £60 to £70, Halfords high-security steering wheel shield, at £69.99, which are similar, and Stoplok Pro, at £44.55.

Experts said although tricky to assemble and fit, the Autolok and Halfords devices were impossible for the would-be thief to miss because they cover half the steering wheel and both stood up "brilliantly" to the full five-minute attack.

The Stoplok Pro, unlike other stoplocks tested, also survived the full five minutes and despite not having flashing lights, its yellow body was a "superbly effective" visual deterrent, experts said. The Barrier Deadlock, a poor ninth despite being the most expensive at £217, lost points for lack of visual deterrence.

Ten-year-old cars are 10 times more likely to be stolen than newer ones because they rarely have alarms, immobilisers or deadlocks.