Hull: Keyless car theft – how to protect your vehicle

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Hull: Keyless car theft – how to protect your vehicle


A relatively new development in car technology is ‘keyless entry and ignition’. This allows a vehicle to be opened and started without having to operate the key or key fob in the traditional way. Instead it emits a radio signal which will unlock the car automatically as the key-holder approaches; once the driver is seated, the car can be started by pressing an ignition button.

The method which criminals have developed to hack this system is one that is being used by organised gangs – it’s not an opportunistic theft. It involves one thief using an electronic device called a ‘relay device’ and loitering near the front door of the car’s owner. Since many of us keep our keys in the hallway, this device is then close enough to pick up the radio signal from the car’s key fob.

Their accomplice stands closer to the car, holding another device which picks up the signal from the first one. The vehicle then responds as if that device is the key and unlocks, allowing the thief to gain access and drive it away.

How can I protect my car from relay theft?

Turn off or disable the key

Find out from your dealer if you can disable the keyless entry feature when you are at home.

Keep keys carefully stored

Store your car keys away from entry points such as the door or a windowsill. It is advisable to do this even if your vehicle doesn’t have keyless entry as it’s best not to give opportunists an easy view of where they are kept.

Signal Blocking Bag (Faraday Bag)

When it comes to avoiding having the radio signal from the key picked up, some experts have suggested storing your keys in a metal box or even using the fridge! Signal blocking bags are also recommended. They are lined with metal material and can block the key’s signal. 

Steering wheel lock

Once a familiar sight, the steering wheel lock has fallen from favour as car security has improved. However they could see a resurgence as an old-fashioned steering lock can prove enough of a deterrent to persuade a thief to look elsewhere.

Neighbourhood Watch

‘Relay Theft’ thieves often work in the dead of night and rely on not being spotted. It can be a good idea to join the Neighbourhood Watch, and also to talk to your neighbours about this type of crime, so the community can be alert for anyone behaving suspiciously.

To purchase a Signal Blocking bag, or other crime prevention equipment, visit our online shop here