How to prevent keyless car theft

Many popular cars are at risk of keyless car theft. Here’s what keyless car theft actually is, which cars are at risk, and how to prevent keyless car theft from happening to you.

Many popular cars are at risk of keyless car theft. Here’s what keyless car theft actually is, which cars are at risk, and how to prevent keyless car theft from happening to you.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
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Posted 9 OCTOBER 2020

What is keyless car theft?

Keyless car theft, also known as ‘relay car theft’, is a means of stealing a person’s car using keyless car entry. Opportunistic thieves often buy the tech necessary for keyless car theft, online.

The equipment includes two simple ‘relay’ boxes. One relay box is placed near your car and another, close to where you keep your key (usually in proximity to your house).

The aim of this is to extend the key’s signal, which fools the car’s technology into thinking that the key is nearby. When it works, a criminal can open your car and steal it, sometimes in fewer than 10 seconds.

Which cars are vulnerable to keyless car theft?

Any car with keyless entry may potentially be at risk. This means that if you push a button on a fob to open your car door, and you don’t have adequate security, you could become a victim. 

Motor industry safety standards organisation, Thatcham Research, rates cars for security against its Relay Attack test. See 2020 ratings

Does car insurance cover keyless car theft?

Most, but not all, comprehensive and third party fire and theft car insurance policies will cover keyless car theft. However, from the beginning of 2021, drivers are likely to face car insurance premium hikes if they own a car with keyless entry - unless they install approved security features. These could include a tracking device, a car alarm and a steering wheel lock, to deter potential thieves.

A car’s vulnerability to keyless theft will soon be measured in the official vehicle security ratings that insurance providers use to set their premiums.

How to prevent keyless car theft  

This might all sound a bit worrying, but there are various security measures that can help protect your car from keyless car theft:

  • Avoid parking your car on the street. It’s always preferable to park your car in a locked garage. Keyless car theft often occurs in residential areas at night.
  • Store your key in a metal container. The signal from a relay box can pass through almost anything, including doors and windows et cetera. But it can’t pass through metal. That’s why it’s a good idea to store your key in a metal container for extra protection. At the very least, remember not to leave your keys near a door or window.
  • Buy a signal-blocking pouch/wallet or Faraday bag. These ‘bags’ are designed to intercept the signal from a relay box, making keyless car theft all but impossible. Most pouches/wallets/Faraday bags – also called cages - are available in pairs online, for under £10.
  • Turn off your keyless fob’s wireless signal. This is possible for some vehicle models. Check your car’s manual for details.
  • Install security features. The more security features you have, the harder it’ll be for criminals to take your car, even if they manage to get it open. Consider installing a car alarm, an immobiliser and buying a steering wheel lock for added peace of mind. Tracking devices are also worth considering and could have a positive impact on your car insurance premiums.

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Whether you own a keyless car or not, for ultimate peace of mind, don’t forget to get your car insurance sorted. It could protect you in the event that someone does manage to get away with your vehicle.

Why not let us help you compare car insurance quotes today, to see if you could find a great deal at a price that suits your budget?

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