You might think that because your car doesn’t need a key to open and start it, that it’s safer from thieves. But this isn’t quite the case. We look deeper into keyless car theft and what you can do to prevent it.
What is keyless car theft?
A keyless car is a car that doesn’t require a key to be inserted into the ignition to lock or unlock it. These cars use signals sent between the car and a special fob to automatically lock the doors when the fob is out of range, and unlock them when it’s back in range. In some cases, keyless cars don’t even need a key to start the engine. Keyless car theft is the theft of one of these cars, without being in possession of the physical fob.
More than two hundred cars are stolen every day in the UK, and keyless cars, especially the luxury end, account for a growing number. This is leading to certain models of keyless cars becoming more expensive to insure because they’re deemed more vulnerable than other models. Some of these include the Ford Fiesta and Focus, Volkswagen Golf, and Nissan QashQai.
How do car thieves steal keyless cars?
The growing trend has seen thieves relying on signal boosters to steal keyless cars. Using a device placed in the vicinity of the fob, they’re able to capture the signal from the fob and boost, or relay, the signal to another device. This then sends it to the car, tricking it into unlocking the doors. This is commonly done when the car is still parked on your driveway.
But even if you’re not at home, your keyless car could still be compromised. For example, a thief could wait for you in a car park of a store, and then use a device that blocks the signal from your fob as you walk away from the car. This prevents the car from locking as it still believes the fob is nearby.
In this scenario, the thief then has full access to get into your car, and if it has a keyless starter then it can be started and driven away in minutes.
How to avoid keyless car theft
The technology that keyless car thieves use isn’t new or particularly sophisticated, so car manufacturers are looking for ways to reduce keyless car theft. But if you’ve already got a keyless car, or are considering buying one, what steps can you take to reduce the likelihood of you becoming a victim of keyless car theft?
Keep your car keys out of range when not in use
The car fob can transmit a signal up to six metres away, so keep it as far away from the car as possible. Placing it near the front door or the driveway where the car’s kept, will make it easier for thieves to capture its signal. Keep it well inside the house away from entry points.
Keep your car key in a Faraday cage / pouch
You can buy special pouches that are lined with metal. These pouches prevent the signal being transmitted and are one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways you can help to prevent keyless car theft. These pouches don’t cost very much at all, and you can find them on Amazon starting at around £7.
Use additional security measures such as a steering lock
If thieves do manage to open your keyless car, there are additional steps you can take to stop it being taken away. Always fix a lock to the steering wheel or use a wheel clamp. If you have a garage, then consider keeping your car in there, especially overnight. If you don’t have a garage then you could look at installing a bollard on your driveway (as long as it’s a private drive).
Anything that adds to the time and effort it takes to steal your car will act as a deterrent to would-be thieves. You could also have a tracker fitted to the car. If the thieves know it’s got a tracker, they may be less inclined to try to steal it.
Be mindful of where you park your car
Keeping your car parked on a quiet street overnight or in a dark and secluded area will make it easier for thieves to get away with your car. If you don’t have a garage then make sure your car is visible from the house and in a well-lit area. Lastly, you should install security lights and a camera.
If you’re thinking of buying a new car, find out how your credit score could affect your financing options.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.