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.
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.
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!
How much do signal-blocking pouches cost?
These pouches are inexpensive to purchase, from as little as £5.
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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