My Garage
New hero

Police issue updated guidance as keyless car theft is on the rise

By Stephen Turvil | July 27, 2021


Why not leave a comment?

See all | Add a comment

Police issue warnings as keyless car theft cases rise in the United Kingdom

Police issue updated guidance as keyless car theft is on the rise

Thieves now steal keyless cars in greater numbers via ‘relay theft’ which is the quick, silent, simple technique that does not cause any damage, the National Police Chiefs’ Council warned motorists. Between May and June 2021, vehicle crime increased 3.1% and the ‘bulk’ of the rise was blamed on relay theft. 

How relay theft works

Note first that your car’s key transmits a signal. When the car receives this signal, it concludes that its key – and you its legitimate owner – are nearby. The car then lets you open its doors, start the engine and drive. The key can remain in your pocket throughout. It simply has to be fairly close to the vehicle.

Relay theft exploits this convenient system. A car is parked on your drive and its key is in your house, close to the front door. However, the key is too far from the vehicle for it to legitimately unlock. The key is out of range. 

The criminal now stands close to your front door with a small, light, low cost device. The device captures a signal from your car’s key and is now ‘relayed’ to a second device the thief puts next to the car. The second device passes the signal to the vehicle, the car thinks its legitimate key is nearby so it can be unlocked, started, and driven. This process only takes a moment. 

How to stop relay theft

Relay theft can be stopped easily. Simply block the signal from the car’s key by storing it in a faraday pouch, tin, or box. The criminal’s device cannot then capture its signal so your vehicle remains locked. 

Police perspective

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Vehicle Crime, Assistant Chief Constable Jenny Sims, said: 

‘While the rapid development of technology has dramatically improved the experience of drivers, it has also allowed criminals to exploit weaknesses in electronic security. We are working closely with car manufacturers to help them design out crime by sharing intelligence and equipment seized from criminals. We are already making substantial progress in this regard’, she confirmed.

The Assistant Chief Constable also encouraged drivers to do more than use a faraday pouch. ‘Return to basics like making sure your car is locked is worthwhile, too. We know from research that some owners think that cars automatically lock. They do not. Always double check before you walk away that it is locked.'

Related Articles

Jeremy Vine causes another social media storm after a van reverses into his bike. What do you make of this one?
The broadcaster is arguably the UK’s most prominent social cyclist as he films and uploads incidents from his rides.
Sep 19, 2023
Welsh Government defends introduction of 20mph speed limit despite eye-watering costs
The introduction has been labelled ‘absolutely insane’ by House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt
Sep 19, 2023
The best used cars for £5,000 and less
With the cost-of-living crisis continuing to bite, many of us might be looking to move away from finance agreements and to cheaper cars.
Sep 19, 2023
These are all the cars and vans made in the UK
The UK is renowned for its car industry, and though we might not produce as many cars as we once did more than half a million new cars were...
Sep 19, 2023