Marijus Gruzinskas was sentenced to two years in prison this week for using ‘sophisticated’ technology to steal 12 vehicles in three months.

The 29-year-old of Claughton Avenue, Crewe, stole vehicles from across Cheshire and Greater Manchester, using technology to gain access to cars before cloning keys for the vehicles once he was inside.

Detective Sergeant Nick Henderson, of Chester CID, said: “Gruzinskas is a brazen thief who carefully planned how to steal cars using a sophisticated method.

“After getting a taste for his crimes he continued to steal cars and travelled around the country believing he would never be detected.

“Today Gruzinskas will begin paying for those crimes and the conclusion of this case means we have successfully taken a criminal off the streets of Cheshire.”

Police figures show that the number of car thefts have become more common in Greater Manchester in the last couple of years.

Between October 2015 and September 2016, 4,572 vehicles were stolen in Greater Manchester. In the same period in 2016/17, the figure was 6,564.

One high-tech new technique for stealing cars involves using sophisticated technology to gain access to high-end keyless cars.

Keyless cars allow drivers to open and start their car without touching the fob. The car recognises when the driver is close by and opens when the door handle is pulled.

Thieves, who are often linked to organised crime, can use a relay amplifier to boost the signal given off a car owner’s keys. Used alongside a special transmitter, this technology can be used to ‘trick’ the car into thinking the owner is next to the car – when they are in soundly asleep in bed.

Criminals are then able to silently open the car, push the start button and drive away, all within one minute.

This video from the West Midlands Police shows how the process works. You can see one thief near the victim’s home holding the relay amplifier and another criminal, closer to the car, holding the transmitter.

These devices can legally be bought online.

Tests by the ADAC – the German equivalent of the AA – managed to ‘hack’ keyless sensor technology with a nearby fob in vehicles from nearly 30 manufacturers.

Police recommend using an old-fashioned steering lock to guard against the high-tech thieves. You can also store your car key inside a special ‘faraday sleeve’ which blocks unwanted radio transmissions.