Cars have come a long way in recent years. The comfort and performance that we take for granted now, was only a pipe dream 10-15 years ago.
There’s no better example of this than security and access. Automotive designers have considered how people use their car in their everyday life and created solutions to suit.
One such solution has been keyless entry, where you can gain access to your car so long as your key is on your person and you’re within a certain distance of the car.
A great idea. Less fumbling around for keys, potentially less theft of keys.
However, as criminal behaviour and new security technology play a cat and mouse game, keyless entry has left a backdoor to opportunists who now no longer need direct access to your keys to get into your car.
How does keyless theft work?
Keyless entry works on via a signal. In simplistic terms, if your car can read the signal from the key, it will unlock. If it can’t, it will lock.
Keyless theft, also known as ‘relay theft’ is relatively simple and involves using a couple of devices to trick the car into thinking the key is closer than it actually is.
The two devices are a relay amplifier and a relay transmitter (hence ‘relay theft’). When thieves have identified a house with a keyless-entry car on the driveway, they use the amplifier to increase the reach of the signal. The transmitter, which is held by someone stood next to the car, picks up this extended signal and essentially becomes the key.
The car picks up what it believes to be the key and unlocks.
How can you prevent keyless theft?
The crime may be pretty simple but it’s also pretty simple to prevent if you take proper precautions. We’ve listed three below, but these options should be explored as an additional to standard precautions for expensive cars. Physical barriers (such as steering wheel locks), housing your car in a garage, never keeping valuables in your car etc should all be pre-requisites.
Below are three ways you can prevent criminals from picking up the signal from your key and amplifying it:
A Faraday Pouch is a little pocket holder for your key which blocks any signal from entering or leaving. Before purchasing a Faraday Pouch, you should consult a trusted expert. Tests on some Faraday pouches have shown some signal still transmitting, so you should only purchase one that has passed rigorous testing.
Keep keys away from doors and windows
We would advise that all keys, whether for keyless entry or not, are left far from home entry points.
Keyless entry only works if the thieves can pick up the signal from your keys and this is a lot easier for them to do if they know where the keys are. Keep your keys away from any entry point and out of sight.
Find out if you can switch your key off
This isn’t applicable to all keyless-entry keys, but some may have an option to switch off keyless entry when not in use. Speak to the car manufacturer to find out if this is the case and whether it is detrimental to the car to turn this system off and on repeatedly.
As always with criminal behaviour, the best defence is a good offence. We may never completely eradicate theft, but we can make it harder for criminals. Insurance claims are easier won if all reasonable preventative measures are put in place.
Our claims director, Jody Thirkell, told us:
“Our claims team are seeing more and more of these types of theft and on one occasion, three keyless entry vehicles were stolen on the same night from one location with the keys hanging up just inside the front door of the property. Our clients should be alive to these risks which may not have even been considered until it is too late. As always, if you need advice Romero customers can call our claims team on 0113 2814 8110.”