As automotive technology becomes ever more advanced in its capabilities, we assume we’ll be better protected from car theft. After all that’s the point in developing new security features. But according to Office of National Statistics, 2017 saw car theft figures rocket in England and Wales – up to 89,000 cases– an alarming 56% increase from the previous year.
So why the sudden spike? Security experts seem to think keyless theft, or relay theft as it’s otherwise known, as well as OBD (on board diagnostic port) theft could be responsible. And the most worrying thing is, the process is relatively simple for tech-savvy criminals.
Once a particular vehicle has been chosen, criminals use widely available signal relay devices to ‘trick’ the car into thinking the correct key is present by amplifying its signal and as soon as the thieves get access, all it takes is a touch of a button to start the engine and drive away.
OBD theft uses technology plugged into your OBD port to disarm the alarm and immobiliser and allow your car to be started by the push button start (keyless start).
But while the simplicity of accessing your car can seem alarming, there are things you can do to help prevent it being stolen. Here are some of our top tips:
You can do this by standing close to the car and pressing the “lock” button twice on your key fob and also ensure the lights have flashed and by doing this your car should be deadlocked. Even if your car has keyless entry, physically locking the car each time with the key fob ensures it is correctly deadlocked.
A Faraday pouch is a simple but highly effective way of stopping thieves amplifying your key’s signal. The pouch is lined with a conductive fabric mesh, which stops your car key fob’s signals hitting the outside world once placed inside. These are widely available online for around £10 and are a definite must-have in the defence against relay theft.
It may seem like an obvious one, but keeping your key fob (and the signal potential thieves want to amplify) away from doors and windows will make the process much tougher for them. This also has the added benefit that your keys or fob can’t be hooked out through your letterbox. So find a suitable spot, perhaps a kitchen drawer or the like, to store your keys or fob away and don’t forget about your spare keys.
While perhaps seen as a bit ‘old hat’ in today’s technology driven world, the right steering wheel lock is still a highly effective last line of defense. Choosing a brightly-coloured, good quality lock should be enough to make thieves think twice. The Stoplock Pro is highly rated by many and is available from around £30. Another thing to consider is if you do have a gated driveway, lock the gate.
If your prevention methods haven’t been enough to stop thieves getting away with your car, the next best thing is to find out where they’ve taken it. Trackerfit offer a wide range of devices for all kinds of vehicles – helping you locate the vehicle quickly and easily if the worst should happen.
Having the right car insurance is perhaps the most important security measure of them all – especially in light of the worrying new car theft figures. So here at LV=, we’ve been working hard to make sure our cover protects you against this new type of car crime. Brian Hodge, Director of Motor Customer Claims at LV= said: “While the latest figures on relay theft are worrying, our customers can have peace of mind knowing they’re covered against it."
"We’d definitely recommend the use of Faraday pouches and other traditional types of car security for theft prevention. Some thieves will be willing to go to extreme lengths to get access to a vehicle, so it’s important to protect yourself as much as possible.”
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