car crime using keyless entry on rie

Car Crime: Gone in sixty seconds?

After almost two decades of decline, car thefts are on the rise in the UK. There is now a car stolen every five minutes, on average, according to the ONS. This is, in part, thanks to a new way to steal keyless cars that can take as little as a minute to carry out.

In this article, we explore the problem and suggest ways you can keep your vehicle safe.

Technological developments

Car theft had been falling since the mid-90s as security measures got better. In particular, electronic immobilisers meant that criminals knew they needed a key to start a car – so there wasn’t much point breaking in without one.

But technological developments are now creating new opportunities for car crime. Criminal gangs have developed ways to pick up the signal from a keyfob inside a building and transmit it to the car. Then they can just get in, hit ‘drive’ and leave with the vehicle – all done in as little as a minute, without any actions that seem suspicious.

It’s likely there will be new solutions to this challenge, but at the moment, it makes sense for motorists to take steps to protect themselves. Here are five ideas to help you get started.

keyless car crime infographic
Preventing keyless car crime

1. Try to switch off your keyfob

Although this varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, it is possible to turn off the signal from some keyless fobs. If you can do this, there’s no signal to pick up and your car is safe. (From this sort of theft, at least.)

2. Try to block the signal

If you put your key in a Faraday pouch, it could block the signal, so your car can’t receive it. It’s a simple, low-tech solution, but there are a couple of drawbacks. First, it reduces the convenience of the keyless entry system, as part of the idea is that you don’t need to get your keyfob out to open the doors or start the car.

Second, there are lots of Faraday pouches on the market, so there’s no guarantee that the one you buy will work. Saying that, it is easy to test. Just put your keyfob in the pouch and stand next to your car. If nothing happens, the pouch is probably working.

3. Make it harder to enhance the signal

Keyless fobs don’t have a great range, so anything you can do to move them away from the car will mark it harder for thieves to pick the signal up. In particular, try to keep the fob away from doors and windows.

4. Make it harder to drive the car away

Even if you’re usually careful, there are times you could make a mistake. But that doesn’t mean criminals can leave with your car. If you lock the steering wheel, block the drive or even clamp the wheels, they may be able to get in, but it’ll be harder to drive away – and if they try to get round the barrier, they’ll be a lot more noticeable as well.

5. Make it easier for the car to be recovered

Finally, you could consider a tracking device on your car. It will only be needed if thieves actually get away with your vehicle, but it significantly increases the chances of getting the car back.

Further information

Download a high resolution version of the LeasePlan Car Crime Infographic here to save or copy and keep.

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