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Toyota SA has denied that it manufactures a system modulator override device which the police are believed to have found when they cracked a vehicles-to-order theft syndicate.
Pretoria police arrested five men on Wednesday who are believed to have been part of the syndicate.
Among the things alleged to have been found with the men were a Toyota Hilux master key and a system modulator override. It is believed that, once plugged in, the device overrides any security system in a car and allows would-be thieves to drive off without concerns about immobilisers or alarm systems.
Police also suspect the syndicate could be getting help from someone within Toyota.
The device is not available from dealerships and has to be procured from the factory.
However, Toyota SA spokesman Leo Kok denied that they manufacture such a device, nor did they have a Toyota master key.
However, he said, they had been made aware of illegal override systems for all vehicles, not only Toyota vehicles. As a result, he said, Toyota had changed its vehicle coding and immobiliser system to block any attempt at overriding its system.
“Toyota constantly improves its vehicle security systems to prevent intrusion from electronic override systems and we have no knowledge of any system that can hack into the security system of our new vehicles,” Kok said.
“If such a system exists, it was designed, built and procured on the black market.”
With regard to the master key allegedly found with the men, Kok said no overall master key exists that would give Toyota, a vehicle owner or any other party access to any Toyota vehicle.
Each vehicle, he said, was issued with a spare key which is its own master key and contains important information that would be required if the owner loses his or her key and needs a replacement.
Kok advised all concerned Toyota clients panicking about the safety of their vehicles to contact their nearest dealership.
“Toyota works closely with the police on a national level and with enforcement agencies on an international level and is confident that it will remain ahead of any electronic system that is made to steal its vehicles,” he said. - The Star