In the last 5 years, car thefts have increased by almost 50%. This increase is thought to be caused by a spike in thefts involving sophisticated technology that specifically targets cars that use keyless entry systems.
A keyless entry system is one that involves the use of a fob that emits a signal that can be detected by your car once you are within a certain range of the vehicle. This signal unlocks the doors and allows you to start the engine all without the use of a traditional key. This signal is what thieves will manipulate in order to gain entry into your car and drive away within a matter of minutes. They do this by using a relay amplifier and transmitter to target cars that are parked close to their owner’s house, where they can be sure the key or fob will be. While one person stands next to the car holding the transmitter, another walks around the house holding the amplifier. When the fob comes within a certain range of the amplifier, it will detect the signal and transfer it to the transmitter. The transmitter can now act as the key to the car and open it silently and quickly. As keyless entry cars become more affordable and therefore more commonplace, manufacturers are now looking at ways of making keyless entry systems more secure against thefts, by making them resistant to relay attacks.
Once a vehicle has been stolen, it is often shipped abroad where it might be sold on or dismantled for its parts. Therefore, police only have a matter of hours to recover the vehicle once it has been taken which is why a high proportion of stolen cars are never returned to their owners.
How To Prevent Keyless Car Theft
Even though your car is locked automatically once you walk away with your fob, double check that it is locked properly. Once inside your home, store your keys well away from any walls and windows, as this will make it harder for thieves to pick up any signals on their relay amplifier.
The relay device will be able to pick up signals through windows, doors and walls however it is unable to get through metal. A good idea is to get a metal container to store your keys in when not in use – you can even store them in your microwave! There is also a range of signal blocking key pouches available online for a small price, called Faraday pouches, that will act as a barrier between your keys and the amplifier.
Some vehicle fobs can be switched off when not in use, sometimes requiring a double press of a button to activate this function. Check to see if this is the case for yours.
Take additional security measures to make it harder for thieves to get away with your car. If you have a steering wheel lock or driveway parking post in place, it is usually enough to deter thieves who will then try to target a more accessible car. You can also get a tracking device installed in your vehicle if you do not already have one. This might not stop thieves from driving away in your car but it will considerably help the police to locate your car should it ever be stolen.