Keyless theft is on the rise!

Cars stolen via keyless theft are on the rise, but what exactly is keyless theft? Can you protect yourself against it? Vavista has the answers.

What is keyless theft?

The way criminals steal a car via keyless theft is actually quite simple. First, they buy a relay amplifier and transmitter; these electronic devices are available from the darker corners of the internet.

Next, they look for a house with a nice car outside and can detect if the car has a keyless entry and go system (i.e. you press the key fob to unlock the car, and have a start button instead of an older style key start).

The transmitter is held by the car, while the amplifier is waved near the house. If the car key is close enough the amplifier will detect its signal, amplify it and send it to the transmitter. This transmitter effectively becomes the key, and tricks the car into thinking the real key is nearby.

So the thieves simply open the car, get in, and drive away. The whole thing can take under a minute in near silence, and as the engine won’t cut out when the key is out of range, there is little to stop them.

Did you know?

Recent years have seen a spike in vehicle theft, with the last five years witnessing a 48% increase in the number of cars being stolen. Part of this is due to the rising popularity of keyless entry and go systems.

Research by a German motoring organisation found of 237 keyless systems tested, only three could completely fend off keyless attacks – the latest models of the Discovery, Range Rover, and Jaguar i-Pace. Of the UK’s top-selling cars, only the Vauxhall Corsa was deemed safe – it is not actually available with keyless entry and ignition.

How can I protect my car?

Keyless theft almost sounds like there is nothing you can do to stop it, but there are several steps you can take to minimise the chances of it happening to you;

Do the easy stuff – simple old fashion methods still have their place, so don’t forget to ensure your car is properly locked. Keeping your keys far away from doors and windows can minimise the chances of your key’s signal being scanned, and is general good practice as it can prevent thieves from breaking in and taking them along with your car.

Go old school – Aftermarket devices such as steering wheel locks; a driveway parking post; or even a wheel clamp still have their place. Scanning your keys is no use if the thieves can’t drive the car away.

Add a tracking deviceTracker states that vehicles fitted with its tech have a 96 per cent recovery rate when stolen. Not only is a tracker an excellent deterrent, but if the worst happens there is a far better chance your car can be recovered.

Buy a signal-blocking pouch – a signal blocking or Faraday pouch is made of signal-blocking materials that stop your key transmitting its security code. Keep your key in one of these and is can stop thieves from detecting and amplifying its signal.

Is there anything more you can do?

Ensure your car has the latest software updates. Carmakers are working on countermeasures to combat keyless theft, with new frequency technologies, software and keys among the developments taking place. Having the latest software can help protect your car.

Finally remain vigilant for unusual activity in your area and keep your neighbours, and if necessary the police, informed.