How to Safeguard Your Car from Keyless Entry Theft
As you may have seen in the news, criminals can use special devices to amplify the signal from your key fob to unlock and start your car without ever having the key.
Keyless entry systems have become increasingly common in new cars over the past decade, and while they offer added convenience by allowing you to unlock your car without taking your key out, they also introduce a new risk of theft.
As you may have seen in the news, criminals can use special devices to amplify the signal from your key fob to unlock and start your car without ever having the key. Fortunately, you can take a few precautions to protect your car from keyless theft.
Read on further to find out what they are…
How does keyless entry theft work?
Before getting into the certain techniques you can use to prevent your vehicle from being stolen through keyless entry theft, it is beneficial to know how these crooks do it.
Keyless entry theft works by exploiting the technology behind keyless entry systems. The thieves use two devices to intercept and amplify the radio signal between your key fob and your car allowing them to gain unauthorised access. Here’s the process they operate:
- Relay devices: Thieves use two relay devices to capture and amplify the signal. The first device is placed near your car, while the second is positioned near your home, where your key fob may be stored.
- Signal amplification: The device near your car picks up the weak signal from your key fob and sends it to the device near your home. This device then amplifies the signal and sends it back to the car.
- Car unlocking: The amplified signal tricks your car into thinking the key fob is nearby, causing it to unlock. The thieves can then easily start the engine using the same process and drive away.
This can occur within seconds of the criminals turning up on your driveway, and it leaves no noise or visible signs of break-in making it a stealthy and effective method of stealing your car.
6 ways to protect yourself from keyless entry theft
1. Use a signal-blocking pouch
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to prevent keyless entry theft is to store your key fob in a signal-blocking pouch or box. These storage containers are lined with a metallic material that blocks the radio waves emitted by the key fob, making it impossible for thieves to capture and relay the signal. You can buy these pouches online or from car accessory shops.
2. Keep your key fob away from windows and doors
Keep your key fob as far away as possible from windows and doors, especially at night or when you are not at home. This can prevent poachers from capturing the signal in the first place. Doing this is not a given solution, however, as it’s reported the devices they use can pick signals up from up to 100 meters away.
3. Turn off your key fob’s wireless signal
Some key fobs have the option to turn off the wireless signal when not in use. Check your owner’s manual or contact your vehicle’s manufacturer to find out if your key fob has this feature and how to activate it.
4. Use a steering wheel lock
Car thieves seeking to take advantage of your keyless entry system are more likely to be carrying laptops than traditional tools for breaking in. This means fitting a physical deterrent, such as a steering wheel lock, will likely discourage crooks in the first place.
5. Park wisely
When parking your car choose a well-lit populated area whenever possible. These areas are usually close to CCTV cameras and have obstacles nearby that block a quick getaway — both deterrence for thieves. If you have access to an enclosed garage, make use of it, as the saying goes: ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
6. Fit a tracking device
In the case that your car has been stolen, if you’ve fitted it with a tracking device before the crime takes place, the chances of the police recovering it dramatically increase.
A tracking device uses GPS to locate your car and notify you in the event of your car being moved without your permission. However, if thieves can locate and disable it, trackers become useless, so try to fit them in a discrete spot.
Keyless entry systems have made cars much more convenient to use, but have also made them more vulnerable to theft. Thieves can use devices to amplify the signal from your key fob to unlock and start your car without having the actual key. Be vigilant about keeping your fob secure and make your car an unattractive target.