Keyless vehicle entry systems are now common, so many of the new and used cars on your local dealer’s forecourt are likely to feature them. However, while being able to lock and start your car electronically is convenient, nobody but you should be able to access your vehicle with ease.
Although keyless car entry systems were originally thought to be more secure than their manual counterparts, vehicle theft is on the rise. In fact, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the number of successful motor insurance policy claims made in respect of car theft in the UK was higher in the first quarter of 2019 than in any quarter during the previous seven years.
Criminals have quickly adapted to the introduction of keyless systems within the motor trade, producing ingenious ways to bypass them. One of the most common techniques, relay theft, is carried out using a wireless relay transmitter and a relay amplifier.
One thief stands by the target vehicle holding the transmitter, while another moves the amplifier around adjacent properties.
If the amplifier picks up the signal from the car’s key it will boost it and send it to the transmitter, fooling the system into acting as if the key is being used nearby. They can then open the door and repeat the process to start the engine.
Thieves can only steal cars that can be unlocked and started without removing the fob from your pocket like this, but if you own one of these vehicles you should be on your guard.
Luckily, you can do things to minimise the chances of thieves being able to make off with your keyless car.
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1. Switch your key off
Some electronic keys can be switched off often at the push of a button. If possible, switch yours off when you aren’t using it so that it isn’t emitting a signal that thieves can intercept.
2. Keep your key in a Faraday bag
Faraday bags incorporate layers of metal which block radio signals and they’re available from a range of suppliers. Some people claim that you can create the same effect by wrapping your key in tin foil, but experts say this isn’t as effective. Others suggest that metal boxes can be viable alternatives to Faraday bags.
3. Store your key somewhere safe
Keep your key as far away from walls, windows and doors as you can, ideally in a cupboard or a drawer. Not only will that make it harder for criminals to intercept a signal, it will also mean they can’t easily steal your key through an open window or a letterbox.
4. Take extra security measures
Consider installing a steering wheel lock or an alarm system, if possible, keep your car in a garage or behind locked gates. The more time it will take to steal your car, the fewer thieves are likely to try.
No matter how many precautions you take you could still become a victim of car theft. Therefore, it’s worth fitting a tracker to your vehicle as well as making sure that you have a suitable motor insurance policy in place and paying your premiums on time.