The boss of a luxury car dealership is warning some of the flashest vehicles on Kiwi roads could be targeted in a hacking scam similar to one sweeping Europe.

Dozens of upmarket car models, including BMW, Audi and Range Rover can be remotely unlocked and started using a simple hack with an easily constructed radio amplifier.

Called the "amplifier attack", the hack involves altering the radio frequency in the cars to trick the keyless sensor technology into thinking the vehicle's owner is nearby with the key. The method has been used in a growing number of thefts in Europe where 95 per cent of car brands use keyless entry.

Alex Beacham, general manager of the Beacham Independent Jaguar and Range Rover dealership in Penrose, Auckland, said he expects it is only a matter of time before the scam shows up in New Zealand.


"If someone brought this here they could do exactly the same thing," he said. "The security technology in the cars is the same so it could easily be done."

Other cars being targeted by thieves include European popular models such as the Ford's Galaxy, Audi's A3, Toyota's Rav4, Volkswagen's Golf GTD and Nissan's Leaf.

Mr Beacham said Jaguar and Range Rover were constantly updating their technology in a bid to stay ahead of the scammers.

"Fortunately, New Zealand is too small a country for these kinds of criminals to operate in very easily," he said.

"The stolen cars would have to be shipped out of the country because it would be difficult to sell them on here."

Toyota and BMW had yet to come across the amplifier attack scam in New Zealand.

But Toyota NZ spokesman Morgan Dilks said car owners would find it difficult to guard against other than taking a few basic precautions with their vehicles.

"Owners should always know where their keys are, make sure their vehicle is always locked when unattended and is parked in a safe place," he said.

BMW New Zealand's corporate communications manager Edward Finn stressed the safety and security of customers was paramount.

"Anyone who has any concerns about the security of their car should contact their nearest authorised BMW dealer," he added.