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Keyless car theft on the rise

Keyless car theft, or relay theft, is on the rise.

Last year saw a 10% rise in car theft generally and the increase is thought to be caused by the rise of keyless entry on newer cars.

Many new cars now have keyless entry systems, allowing the driver to open and start the car without using a button or turning a key so long as the fob is nearby. Thieves are exploiting this, using sophisticated technology to hack into the car’s computer, meaning they don’t even need a key fob to start the vehicle.

A relay attack usually involves two people working together. One stands by the targeted vehicle, while the other stands near the house with a device that can pick up a signal from the key fob. The device then relays the key fob’s signal directly to the car, allowing the thieves to get in and drive away in as little as 60 seconds.

Some devices can pick up a signal from over 100 metres away, so cars kept on a driveway overnight are an easy target.

Luckily there are a few steps you can take to protect your keys and car which include:

Hiding your keys

Keep your car key (and spare key) out of sight and away from doors and windows. Consider investing in a faraday bag. Faraday bags are made with materials that block wireless signals from entering the bag, protecting the integrity of the key inside the bag from outside influences. You can pick up a pair of faraday bags from £5 - £10.

Alternatively, if you have a leftover tin with a tight-fitting lid you can keep your keys in that. The metal surrounding your keys will block outside signals.

Install a tracking device

If your car doesn’t have one already, it might be a good idea to invest in a secure tracking device on your car. Not only can this bring down your insurance, but cars fitted with such devices have a 96% recovery rate when stolen, compared to just 50% for those without.

Physical barriers

A steering lock or wheel clamp is a great way of protecting your car. Even if thieves manage to unlock your car and start the engine, these should prevent them from driving away. Many criminals will consider it too much hassle to try and steal a car fitted with a steering lock.

Check it’s locked

It seems obvious, but always double-check that your car is physically secure and alarmed when using keyless locking systems. Refer to your car’s handbook if you’re unsure about how to alarm the vehicle.