Derbyshire Neighbourhood Watch

Keyless car theft (aka Relay Theft)

A big thank you to Buxton SNT for supplying this article, follow them on Facebook here.

“Keyless car theft can take only 20-30 seconds”

Keyless car theft (aka Relay Theft) is where the signal from a key for a so-called “Keyless entry” car is captured by somebody standing outside the victim’s house using a device.

Step 1
The device transmits the signal to somebody else standing by the victim’s car.

Step 2
This then fools the car into thinking the key is near it, and so it allows the doors to be opened and ignition to be started.

How far do thieves need to be from my car keys?
Thieves only need to be within a few metres from your car keys to capture the signal.

We will tell you how you can stop thieves capturing your car key signal shortly. Cars with keyless entry are at risk to relay theft Examples of ‘keyless’ or ‘relay’ attacks on vehicles are also not new.

Sadly some local locksmiths do frequently hear of cases of lock picks, electronic devices, key cloning gadgets and other tools being used by opportunist thieves.

What device is used in Relay Car Theft?
Relay crime is when a certain type of specialist electronic equipment captures the signal from the Key and transmits it to a receiver that somebody standing next to the car has.

Is My Car Keyless Entry?
If you have to push a button on your car keys to enter your car, you are not at risk of being “hacked”. Only cars with a keyless entry system can be stolen using so called “relay” equipment. Keyless entry cars allow the driver to unlock and start the car with the key fob still in their pocket. Once in the car, the driver can press a button to start the engine.

To protect your keyless entry from being a victim of relay theft, here some are some quick tips:

1. Keep your car keys safe
Use a Signal Blocking Pouch (Faraday Bag) If you have a ‘keyless entry’ car then make sure your keys are kept well away from doors and windows. Signal Blocking pouches can stop access to your vehicle by blocking your car key fob from transmitting its code to the vehicle, as the pouches are lined with layers of metallic material. How much do signal blocking pouches cost? These pouches are cheap to purchase as well, from as low as £5, they can also be used to block WI-FI and Bluetooth signals on Mobile Phones.

2. Turn off Keyless Fob’s Wireless Signal
Do you have a keyless fob? Wireless signals on some keyless fobs can be switched off. To turn off you should look in your cars manual to see if you can do this. If you can’t find anything in your manual about turning off your fob you should contact the vehicle’s manufacturer.

3. Use a Steering Wheel Lock or Car Alarm
Yes, we know, you threw out the wheel lock back in the 90’s. Most modern car thieves are equipped with laptops rather than hand tools, so mechanical devices – such as steering wheel locks – can be a real deterrent! A Steering Wheel Lock can prevent keyless car theft When purchasing a security device look out for 3rd party approval such as Sold Secure, whereby the product is tested against tools used by criminals such as Crowbars and Angle Grinders. If you haven’t got a factory-fitted alarm you may be able to reduce the cost of your car insurance by fitting a car alarm! Check with your insurer that the alarm is approved, as the quality can differ with car alarms. And the single most cost-effective way to reduce your insurance premium is to fit an immobiliser, just make sure it’s professionally fitted.

4. Re-programme your keys
If you buy a second-hand vehicle, there is a risk that you may not be given all of the sets of car keys. Reprogramming your car keys can stop thieves using stolen keys If you’re unsure, get car keys reprogrammed so previous owners can’t access the vehicle. Warning: Although be warned programming of some vehicles keys can be quite expensive, especially if you go direct to the manufacturers, make you hire an auto locksmith who is usually cheaper.

5. Park defensively
Parking your car in a garage overnight is ideal but make sure you ask a reputable locksmith to undertake a security check. If you’re parking on your driveway, park defensively i.e. as close to your property as you can so that access is made difficult. Consider fitting outdoor motion detector lighting and CCTV, and if you park on the street ensure it’s in an area that is well lit.

6. Keep your vehicle tidy
We’ve all heard it, but how many still don’t follow the advice. Make sure to keep the inside of your vehicle clear of clutter, try and hide any electrical items such as Sat Navs & Mobile phones. Try to keep your glove box empty and why not leave your glove box open to show you’ve got nothing to hide. Don’t forget to hide any signs of high-cost equipment as well, such as the marks that Sat-Nav suction cups leave on your windscreen!

7. Get your windows etched
Etching the last seven digits of your Vehicle Identity Number (or registration) onto the windows, headlights and mirrors means anybody who tries to alter your vehicle’s identity will have a tough job.

8. If you lose your keys
Should you have lost your car keys then we recommend contacting a local auto electrician/locksmith, who are experts with vehicle locks and keys. They will make sure that only the keys you have cannot be used by the thief, removing all others your vehicles database, this will stop any stolen keys being used. If we can at least implement a few of these tips it will make the thieves jobs a lot harder!