Police are warning owners of keyless cars to take special measures after a criminal stole a 4.2 litre Audi RS4 from a Broxburn showroom in less than two minutes.
Car thief Kevin McAllister (35) and an accomplice kicked in the door of the showroom and used a sophisticated portable transmitter to unlock the vehicle’s electronic key.
The gizmo, readily available to buy online, amplified and transmitted the signal from the key locked up in the sales room straight to the bright red sports car.
CCTV footage shows that just 90 seconds elapsed from the time the thieves arrived on the forecourt to their flight in the £32,000 stolen car.
Police are now warning motorists against leaving their keys in the entrance hall of their home, or near doors and windows where the wireless signal they emit can be easily scanned.
Sergeant Vince Hughes said: “Relay thefts, where technology is used to scan the signal for keyless cars in order to steal them, is not a common occurrence. However, it is a tactic we are aware of”.
A jury was last week shown footage of McAllister successfully unlocking the car with his partner’s help and getting into the driver’s seat.
Seconds later he reversed the car through a plate glass window, which fell out of its frame and smashed on the ground.
The crooks then set off on a 300-mile joyride in the newly-acquired Audi, later found burned out near Bolsover in Derbyshire.
Police Scotland circulated photographs from the showroom’s CCTV cameras, and police down south immediately identified McAllister, who has an extensive criminal record for car crime.
McAllister, a traveller from the Bolsover area, had denied stealing the car on October 8, 2017, and driving it on an expired provisional licence without insurance.
However a jury found him guilty of all charges after a trial at Livingston Sheriff Court and he was jailed for three and a half years.
Later it emerged he had been sentenced to 18 months in prison in December for dangerous driving while disqualified.
He was convicted of topping 100mph during his flight from cops on the M1 while his six-week-old child lay unrestrained on his partner’s lap in the back seat.
Derby Crown Court heard he tried to pull off a terrifying U-turn spin to escape arrest - but he crashed into one of the police cars instead.
In June 2007 McAllister was jailed for three years for possessing an imitation firearm with intent to threaten a family in a row over speed bumps at a caravan park in Bedfordshire.
He has also served prison sentences for burglary and theft.
Security advisers say drivers should keep electronic car keys in a screened box or tin so the signal can’t be “grabbed” from outside their house and used to open their car.
They can alternatively use a signal blocking pouch called a Faraday Bag lined with layers of metallic barrier material.
The Association of British Insurers has said a rise in keyless car thefts was partly to blame for a sharp increase in insurance payouts, which hit their highest level for seven years at the start of this year.
Audi’s parent company, the VW Group, said it collaborated with police and insurers as part of its “continual” work to improve security measures.