According to research from Number1plates, keyless vehicle thefts increased 93% in 2020. Analysis from Tracker, the stolen vehicle recovery expert states a similar rise of 96% between January to July 2020 compared with 92% for the same period the year before. So this problem isn’t going away anytime soon.
Interestingly, the top five most stolen and recovered vehicles according to Tracker are Range Rover (Sport/Vogue), Land Rover, BMW X5 and Mercedes Benz C Class.*
How are criminals stealing keyless cars?
Keyless cars have receivers inbuilt which picks up the signal from your key fob from a short range. A similar process is used to open doors and start the engine (push button ignition). Car criminals will have a relay-style electronic device which will re-direct your key fob signal to their device, which is next to the vehicle. Their device will assume all key fob power, therefore enabling the vehicle to be opened and ignition started without the fob itself.
Whilst keyless cars are very convenient, it does make them more attractive and more susceptible to thieves. Your car can be stolen in under 60 seconds using the “relay attack” method!
Other vehicle thefts are from what is known as signal jamming. The criminals will be able to block any GPS only trackers in the vehicle, stopping an alert going out during the theft. Thieves have been known to hang around at service stations car parks waiting for people to leave their cars and to jam the signal when the owner goes to lock the car. They can then either steal contents such as laptops and devices from the vehicle or make off with the vehicle itself.
What can you do to protect your vehicles? Here we list our top tips.
- Lock your vehicle and check that it’s locked. Even if you’re stepping away from your car for a few minutes – whether that’s at a petrol station, paying for parking etc, be sure that your vehicle is locked.
- Key your car keys safe – tips include putting them in a tin box or near the microwave, but certainly away from where you keep your car at home overnight.
- Get a key fob pouch or faraday bag. These will help block the signal from your key fob to the relay device.
- Use other deterrents – whether that’s a visual deterrent in your car, or you have visible CCTV cameras or video doorbells that cover the area in which your vehicle is parked whilst at home.
- For new models, whilst many manufacturers are doing what they can to fix this issue, if you speak to your local dealership, in some cases, you may be able to get the keyless signal turned off.
- Consider other GPS/GSM trackers that are resistant to signal jamming. When doing our research for this article, we came across Tracker, a company that not only works with the UK Police Forces to retrieve vehicles quickly, their trackers are patented with signal jamming resistant technology.