Beating key lock jamming thieves - and more on old washing machines

Author Iain Maitland was targeted by thieves who, unknown to him, used a radio signal jamming device

Author Iain Maitland was targeted by thieves who, unknown to him, used a radio signal jamming device to stop him locking his car remotely when parking at motorway services. He says police told him that to avoid falling victim, motorists should lock cars manually. Picture: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier but for criminals, it’s just another opportunity to take advantage of the unwary.

I’ve written before about the phone calls I’ve had from ‘Mr Microsoft’, warning me of a ‘virus’ on my computer but in reality trying to scam me, and within the last few weeks, as TSB’s IT problems raged, I received more than one so-called phishing text purporting to be from the bank.

Now, it seems, criminals are targeting travellers at roadside service stations with the use of radio jammers that stop cars being locked remotely.

Author Iain Maitland, who lives in Suffolk, got in touch to tell me how valuables were stolen from his car at Reading services last month. “Thieves use a gizmo to bock radio transmissions,” he says. “As I walked away and pressed my key to lock the car, they pressed this gizmo so the car wasn’t locked.”

Luckily, police found Iain’s belongings - missing only a pair of shoes - among a pile of dumped bags just off the motorway, but he wants others to learn from his experience. Officers told him motorists should manually lock cars - and check they are locked - rather than doing it remotely.

Meanwhile, more news of washing machines - many of them older than my 22-year-old baby.

Linda Hayward, whose 35-year-old Phillips machine got a mention last week, must have tempted fate by singing its praises. “My mother always told me nothing good comes from boasting,” she says. “Monday morning’s hot wash cycle ended up with a soapy, wet heap of washing.”

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Linda’s repairman, Gordon, was optimistic at first but eventually decided the programmer had broken down. “With a new one costing around £150 and unlikely to be obtainable anyway, sadly he admitted defeat and suggested I go into mourning,” says Linda. “Dear old Phillip will be going to washing machine heaven.”

Linda also tells me that, having read about my machine, Gordon thinks I need new bearings. A couple of readers have also suggested the name of a repairman living not too far from me who may be able to help. Watch this space.

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And there’s a new record for washing machine longevity, set by Ros Reynolds, whose Hotpoint 9513 is 37 not out. This may be the oldest, says Ros. Unless you know different, of course....

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