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What is Keyless Car Theft? Background Image

What is Key­less Car Theft?

Posted 09/09/21 by Elspeth Myers

What Is Key­less Car Theft? 

Key­less car theft, oth­er­wise known as relay theft’, is where the sig­nal from a key fob from a key­less entry’ car is cap­tured by a thief stand­ing close to the vic­tim’s house using a device, with an accom­plice stand­ing next to the vehi­cle who can then open the car once their equip­ment detects the victim’s remote. 

1 – The device trans­mits the sig­nal to anoth­er thief who is stand­ing close to the vic­tim’s car. 

2– This then tricks’ the car into think­ing the key is close by, there­fore allow­ing the vehi­cle to be opened and the igni­tion started. 

You can see an exam­ple of key­less relay theft’ here, report­ed by the BBC.

How Close Do the Thieves Need to Be? 

Thieves only need to be with­in a few metres of your car keys to cap­ture the signal. 

Car thief
Car thief

Are Relay Attacks the New Type of Theft? 

Relay attacks on vehi­cles aren’t new; how­ev­er, they have come to light more recent­ly. From sta­tis­tics, we can see that car theft is much low­er than in the 90s but has been ris­ing, with key­less tech­nol­o­gy thought to be part­ly to blame. 

More than 106,000 offences of theft of, or unau­tho­rised tak­ing of, a motor vehi­cle were report­ed to police in Eng­land and Wales from March 17 — March 18, the high­est annu­al total since 2009

Sad­ly, our lock­smiths fre­quent­ly hear of lock picks, elec­tron­ic devices, key cloning devices and oth­er tools being used by oppor­tunist thieves, which is why we screen the accounts that buy from our lock­smith sup­plies web­site, 3D Group. 

What Devices Are Used? 

Relay theft is when a spe­cif­ic type of spe­cial­ist elec­tron­ic equip­ment cap­tures the sig­nal from the key and trans­mits it to a receiv­er that some­body stand­ing next to the car has. 

Is My Vehi­cle Key­less Entry? 

Key­less entry allows the vehi­cle to be unlocked and opened with­out phys­i­cal­ly oper­at­ing the tra­di­tion­al key or key fob. 

You will still need to car­ry a tra­di­tion­al key or key fob, but you don’t need to use this to unlock or enter your vehi­cle. Instead, sen­sors mount­ed with­in the vehi­cle detect when the key is with­in close prox­im­i­ty, at which point they allow the doors to be unlocked and opened. 

If you have a key­less entry fob, it will be pro­grammed with a spe­cif­ic code that only enables it to unlock your vehi­cle. Some key­less entry vehi­cles will unlock when they detect an attempt to open the door, while oth­ers require the user to press a small but­ton on the han­dle. The same process occurs when exit­ing the vehi­cle. On the oth­er hand, some key­less entry vehi­cles lock auto­mat­i­cal­ly as the key moves out of range. 

Key­less entry is often, but not always, accom­pa­nied by key­less igni­tion, where­by the vehi­cle starts at the push of a but­ton, pro­vid­ed the key is locat­ed with­in the vehicle. 

Car ignition button
Car igni­tion button

Which Car Mod­els Are at Threat? 

Any car with key­less entry is at threat to relay crime; pop­u­lar mod­els such as the Ford Fies­ta and Focus, Nis­san Qashqai and Volk­swa­gen Golf are all at risk. 

The BBC report­ed this in their Hun­dreds of pop­u­lar cars at risk of key­less theft arti­cle, includ­ing research that analysed data on vehi­cle relay attacks. 

Key­less car theft can take as lit­tle as 20 – 30 sec­onds”

Quick Tips to Pre­vent Key­less Car Theft: 

Use an RFID Block­ing Pouch. 

Keep­ing your car key fob safe is the pri­or­i­ty; we sug­gest keep­ing your keys away from the door. 

As a sec­ond, more effec­tive lay­er of pro­tec­tion, we sug­gest using a Sig­nal Block­ing Wal­let for Prox­im­i­ty Keys. These are effec­tive at block­ing the sig­nal from your key­less entry fob. 

Using one of these will ensure that your car key sig­nal can’t be tak­en from out­side and used to open your car. 

PS, don’t for­get to do the same with any spare sets!

Keyless entry protector
Key­less entry protector

How much do sig­nal-block­ing pouch­es cost? 

These pouch­es are inex­pen­sive to pur­chase, from as lit­tle as £5.

Key­less Protector 

3D Autokeys offer a more advanced prod­uct that is easy to use and sim­ple to fit; the advanced tech­nol­o­gy, ultra-thin cir­cuit board, wraps around the vehi­cle remote key bat­tery. The Key­less Pro­tec­tor makes secur­ing your vehi­cle effort­less whilst also affordable. 

Use a Steer­ing Wheel Lock. 

Flash­back to the 90s; we all used steer­ing locks! You might have been part of the peo­ple who threw out their steer­ing lock. How­ev­er, nowa­days, they can be seen as a deter­rent rather than a pro­tec­tion against theft. 

Re-pro­gramme Your Keys. 

If you buy a sec­ond-hand vehi­cle, there is a risk that you haven’t been sup­plied with all sets of keys that access your vehi­cle. To ensure this won’t be a prob­lem, you can get car keys repro­grammed so pre­vi­ous own­ers can’t access the vehicle. 

Pro­gram­ming some vehi­cle keys can be pret­ty expen­sive, espe­cial­ly if you go direct­ly to the man­u­fac­tur­er; hir­ing an auto lock­smith usu­al­ly works out much cheaper. 

If you lose your keys 

Should you have lost your car keys, 3D Autokeys rec­om­mend con­tact­ing one of our auto lock­smiths; we are experts in the auto­mo­tive key and secu­ri­ty indus­try. We can ensure that only the keys you own can be used to access your vehi­cle. Those that were lost or stolen will no longer access or start your car, as we can remove all pre­vi­ous remotes from the cars database. 

We hope you found this blog help­ful. If you require any fur­ther infor­ma­tion, reach out to one of the team; they will be hap­py to help.

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