Secure yourself against keyless car theft

A crowbar could be a thing of the past for car thieves!
"Make sure you get a product that's Thatcham-approved"
  • | by Alice Morgan

In an age of cyber-attacks and security hacks, we take many precautions to make sure our phones and gadgets are protected.

But what would you do if your car was the target of digital fraudsters?

Unfortunately, if you're the proud owner of a keyless car, it could very well be a reality for you.

Relay crime is the new tactic used by criminals to steal cars quickly and quietly.

So, how can you stop yourself becoming a victim?

We've got the answers.

What is relay crime?

Relay crime enables a thief to access your car by corrupting the signal from your key to your vehicle.

If you leave your keys near the front of your house and have your car parked on the driveway, a pair of crooks can use relay boxes to disrupt the signal without ever entering your home.

Image of start/stop feature

One box is held close to the house and used to pick up the signal from your key. This is then transferred to a second box which is held next to the car.

The diversion of the key's signal makes your car think that the key is nearby and it unlocks, letting the criminals hop into your car and drive away without so much as a smashed window.

How to protect keyless entry cars

80%  of vehicle theft happened in the evening or night between April 2016 and March 2017 so you might not even realise your car is missing until the next morning.

Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to avoid relay crime happening to you so you can sleep peacefully.

Block the signal

"If you're able to block the signals coming from the key, it will make things much harder for the thief," explains Eddie Shaw, Managing Director of Go Green Leasing, a vehicle leasing business. "Placing your keys in a strong metal box can do this and putting the keys in the fridge can block the signals too.

Image of metal box

But it could be as simple as moving your keys away from the front of your house.

"Just hiding the keys from sight helps," Shaw continues. "If you leave them out so they can be seen from windows, which can make the thief's job easier as they know where to point their device to pick up the signal."

If you don't fancy getting your chilled keys out of the fridge every morning, you might just be able to turn your key signal off altogether.

Read your car manual to see if it's possible for your vehicle.

Let's get physical

Time to take it back to basics.

Physical deterrents like steering locks - remember them? - will make sure any crooks won't be able to drive away with your car, even if they manage to open it.

Image of steering lock

You should make sure you get a product that's Thatcham approved - this means it will have undergone a lot of tests and should therefore be a pretty reliable investment.

Make sure your car alarm's in good nick too.

Buy a tracker

A tracker won't be able to stop a thief from getting into your car but it'll come in handy if your motor is stolen.

You'll be able to watch your car's movements from your laptop or phone and track the culprit down.

Image of woman looking at mobile anxiously

A massive help if you want to get your car back!

Talk to your car dealer

Your car dealer should be able to advise you when it comes to car security.

If you have an in-built maps device or entertainment system, make sure that your car has all the latest updates in software security.

Image of car dealer handing over keys

That way, your car will be less vulnerable to potential thieves who want to hack into your vehicle's digital signals.

Check your car

Always take care to make sure that your car is locked properly and there are no expensive items on display.

Fit your security lock before you get out of the car and, where possible, fit cameras to the front of your property.

Image of wallet on dashboard

Keep your car in a garage if you can to keep criminals away and always make sure to shut windows tight.

What should you do if your car is taken?

Laura Newton, road transport solicitor at Rothera Sharp, says checking your insurance when you first purchase it is always a good idea.

"Drivers need to be clear about what's contained within their insurance policy. For example, what security measures and keeper details are assumed? Confirm that these are correct for your particular vehicle, so as not to invalidate the insurance at a later date."

And if your car does happen to be stolen by tech-savvy thieves, Newton advises letting the authorities know immediately.

"Whether your vehicle is recovered or not, you would be wise to update DVLA at the earliest opportunity as well as the police - keep a record of all correspondence and report details.

Stolen vehicles may be used to commit driving offences, such as speeding or running red lights. You'll need to be able to establish that the vehicle was not in your possession at that time in order to avoid prosecution."