Car crime turns tech: Half of ‘keyless car’ owners are at risk

Vehicle fob
Does your car have a keyless lock system? While the latest tech gives you quick and easy access to your car, it also opens the door to opportunistic criminals.

A recent survey found that 51% of ‘keyless car’ owners fail to protect their keys from ‘relaying’, the latest crime craze fuelling a rise in vehicle theft.

The keyless tech crime wave

By waving a relay box outside car owner’s homes, thieves can boost key signals to a second device to trick cars into thinking the key is present.

Worryingly, an AA poll found that just over half of keyless car owners don’t store their keys in anything to prevent thieves from boosting their signal.

Gus Park, managing director of AA Insurance Services, said: “The key has always been the most vulnerable part of the car when it comes to security, but many are unaware how important it is to protect it.”

“Car thieves have gone high-tech and relay theft has been on the rise for some time, yet drivers are still unaware of the risks surrounding keyless entry cars. Keyless entry is becoming more common too with more manufacturers offering the tech on lower specification cars.”

Experts believe the method has been used many times by thieves as 101,198 cars were stolen in England and Wales alone just last year.

Direct Line estimate that the number of vehicles stolen last year is closer to 112,000 with a value of £260 million.

Combatting the problem

The hi-tech heists have even affected the president of the AA. Thieves took off with a £55,000 Lexus from Edmund King’s driveway while the keys were still inside his family home.

Since the theft, Mr King keeps his key in a wired pouch, locked inside a red metal box, stored in a microwave at the very back of his house.

Keeping safe from relaying doesn’t have to be so complex, another way to protect your key fob is to use a Faraday pouch, which effectively block the signals coming from the remote, so relay criminals can’t boost it.

A recent poll showed that only a fifth use of keyless car owners use the pouches to keep their keys safe.

5 tips for keeping your car safe:

1. Keep your key fob far away from your vehicle.

2. Invest in vehicle protection, like a steering wheel lock or wheel clamp.

3. Check your vehicle is locked when you’re not using it.

4. Be careful where you park overnight and use garages where possible.

5. Install a tracking device on your vehicle.

Read our guide on how to protect your car from thieves for more details.


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