We've been hearing about these devices for a couple of years. And it's still not clear just how common they are. But assuming that big car theft rings like the ones we see in the movies are real, we can probably assume they know about them.
The primary source of this news is the National Insurance Crime Bureau. See NICB Reveals Mystery Device That Opens and Starts Vehicles:
The device obtained by NICB was purchased via a third-party security expert from an overseas company. It was developed by engineers in an effort to provide manufacturers and other anti-theft organizations the ability to test the vulnerability of various vehicles’ systems. Called a “Relay Attack” unit, this particular model only works on cars and trucks that use a keyless remote and a push-button ignition. ...
The vehicles were tested to see if the device could:
open the door
start the vehicle
drive it away
turn off and restart the engine without the original fob present
The NICB was able to open 19 (54 percent) of the vehicles and start and drive away 18 (51 percent) of them. Of the 18 that were started, after driving them away and turning off the ignition, the device was used to restart 12 (34 percent) of the vehicles.
It makes sense that a car manufacturer would make a master key use at the dealers' shops. And it was only a matter of time before some unscrupulous mechanic pilfered and copied one of those keys.
I miss the good old days when a thief would use a slim jim to break in, then hot wire our cars like they did in the movies.
P.S. Next thing you know someone will invent a master wheel lock key so the tire thief doesn't have to make his own like this guy did.