Baffled drivers 'fobbed off' by car key puzzle

Baffled Cubbington motorists have been experiencing strange goings-on with their cars over the past week and everyone is at a loss as to what or who is causing the problems. Since Saturday morning neighbours in Broadway have been unable to lock their cars using their electronic key fobs when they have been parked within 20 yards of their homes.

Diagnostic tests at garages, discussions with manufacturers, call - outs by the RAC and searches for large aerials and CB radios in the village have all drawn a blank.

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The affected cars are different makes and models and owned by people living five homes apart. Both families have not had any problems with their cars before the weekend's events.

Car owner Stuart Davis said: "We first thought it was the batteries running low on the key fob. Then we called the RAC and then we thought we would take it into Toyota. They examined the car and couldn't find anything wrong with it.

"We have parked it in various places in the village and there was no problem. So we moved it along our road a metre at a time and we moved in to one of the parking areas in Broadway and it locked there. But as soon as we parked any closer to the house it wouldn't lock.

"We are totally baffled by it. I asked people at work for their opinions and they said the only thing that could do that would be radio waves because they would work on the same frequency as a key fob.

"It has been suggested it could be a mobile phone mast - the only one we have is at the bottom of the village."

Mr Davis' wife Tracy is also at a loss to what is causing the problems, but suggests a mobile mast owned by Three close to Cross Lane could have some affect.

She added: "I work for an IT department and my first thought was it could be because of a cordless network. But I have spoken to my colleagues and they said it couldn't be because the frequency is too low. A colleague of mine had similar problems at an old house and that was from a mobile phone mast.

"Residents have put a petition together twice against another mast outside the Rugby Tavern and I have signed both of them. It is the only thing around here of a similar frequency that could have affected it. We have asked our neighbours whether they had CB radios which they haven't and we have been looking for large aerials but it is all happening in the space of five houses and our neighbours have experienced the same problems.

A spokesman speaking on behalf of Three explained that no changes had been made to its Cross Lane mast during the last week.

He said: "In terms of the mast we have on New Manor Farm, just past Cross Lane, it operates on radio frequencies and there have been no upgrades or updates - so we can rule out the mast.

"There can be things that affect it such as radio equipment or taxi firm radios - it could be a whole host of things."

A spokesman for the RAC explained that the breakdown service had come across incidents like this across the country.

He said: "When there is a particularly strong frequency it could mask the transmission, so it couldn't work.

"All car key fobs should be robust enough to withstand any legal external frequencies, as part of certain regulations.

"Sometimes it could be a pirate radio station that can affect them.

"When our patrols do come across situations like this they are asked to report it so we can include it on a map of the country, so we can see what is going on."

25 August 2006

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