A keyless entry system allows car owners to access their car without a key, it’s a replacement for traditional keys and makes entering and starting a car more convenient.
However, while convenient, the technology isn't as secure as you might think. The systems rely on radio waves to determine whether the car will unlock, which are easy to manipulate.
88% of vehicles stolen and recovered by Tracker last year were keyless thefts - up 22% in just two years - Tracker.
What is Keyless Car Theft?
Cunning thieves have developed methods to ‘trick’ these systems into thinking a device in their possession is the car owner’s key fob. The devices manipulate the radio waves, which gives the thief access to the car.
This means a thief can enter a car and drive off in a matter of seconds - many car owners are unaware the car is gone until they next go to use it. By this point the thief could be dismantling the car at a chop shop, meaning the chance of recovery is slim.
How Does Keyless Car Theft Work?
Thieves use a scanning device to pick up the code your fob uses to unlock your car. It transmits this code to the device, and the car technology system thinks the owner is nearby - so it unlocks.
To start the ignition, the thief uses the same tactic; this time it’s the engine that starts. No alarms go off, and the thief drives off without drawing any attention to themselves.
The key does need to be within 5-10 metres of the car, so thefts are more common at homes than work or public car parks.
Sometimes thieves will operate in pairs, so there’s a better chance of the key fob being within distance. For example, one thief will stand next to the car, and the other will stand near the house, getting as close to the key fob as possible.
Are Keyless Cars Easy to Steal?
Yes, keyless cars are easier to steal, and thieves can drive off in a matter of seconds. Picking a traditional lock or breaking the steering wheel casing will usually set off an alarm, telling the owner a stranger is trying to access the vehicle.
With a keyless system that mimics the car’s code, the car is tricked into thinking the person entering the car is the owner, so the car’s security features are immobilised.
What Are Manufacturers Doing to Stop Keyless Thefts?
Some manufacturers have modified key fobs, so they deactivate after a certain amount of time and don’t emit the code required to enter the car.
Other manufacturers have fitted the fobs with ultra-wideband radio frequencies, so thieves can’t pick up the frequency.
However, keyless car theft is still a problem, and many car owners feel they’re being duped by manufacturers who claim to sell superior technology.
How to Prevent Keyless Car Theft
• Use a steering wheel lock
• Turn off your key deactivation signal
• Use a blocking pouch
• Reprogramme your car keys
Increase the Chance of Recovery
Sometimes, preventive measures are not enough. Thieves will take a gamble and try to take your car. You could install a tracker on your car, which makes your car more likely to return.
You can read more about car trackers here:What Do Car Trackers Do?