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Does keyless car technology make your motor more vulnerable to theft?

3 minutes

Keyless car technology is partly responsible for the recent rise in UK car theft – so what should you do to help keep your car safe? Let’s take a look.

  • A Faraday pouch could help prevent the theft of your vehicle
  • Using a steering wheel lock is still a good way of preventing your car being stolen
  • Why you should double lock your car doors 

Thieves are targeting cars equipped with keyless technology more and more, so it's important to take the right precautions

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 the most recent Home Office statistics, vehicle theft has increased by an alarming 50 per cent over five years. More than 56,000 vehicles are stolen in the UK each year, though some experts suggest the real number could be higher. 

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. Plus, with uncertainty around Brexit and the potential closure of UK ports, there's been concerns that there will be a flurry of activity amongst organised crime gangs. Criminals may attempt to ship as many stolen vehicles and parts as possible before the end of the year, leading to an increase in thefts. 

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: 

Make sure your car is locked

Who knew there was more than one way to lock your car? 

Single locking was the type of locking used on cars 20 years ago. It meant the car was locked from the outside but if you smashed a window, you could manually open the car by reaching in and pulling the handle from the inside.

Double locking refers to when the car is locked in such a way that the car can’t be opened from the outside or by someone inside it.

Most modern cars double lock, but only on the second press of the remote key fob. Manufacturers have built this functionality into modern cars, but because the regulations around double locking vary in different countries, it’s easier for car companies to standardise the technology so that it only single locks on the first press of the key. 

Most drivers are not aware that to fully protect their car from entry, they need to press their key fob twice.

To double lock your car, stand close to the car and press the “lock” button twice on your key fob. Make sure the lights and/or indicators have flashed. Your car should now be deadlocked. Even if your car has keyless entry, physically locking the car each time with the key fob ensures it is correctly deadlocked.

Invest in a Faraday pouch

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.

Keep your key fob stored away

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.

Traditional car security still a safe bet

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 £50. Another thing to consider is if you do have a gated driveway, lock the gate. 

Fit a tracking device

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. 

Get the right car insurance

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: "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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