Relay theft explained
Wrap your vehicle’s key fob in tinfoil if it has a keyless entry start system to prevent it being stolen quickly, quietly, and easily via the relay theft technique, security company GlobalSecurityIQ warned. Holly Hubert, CEO, said that whereas this idea is “not ideal” it is an ”inexpensive way” to protect your car.
Consider why. The keyless system removes any need to unlock the vehicle’s door via a button on its key fob. If, therefore, the fob is in close proximity simply pull the door handle – or press a button on the handle then pull - and the door opens. This feature is useful if the key fob is buried at the bottom of a shopping bag.
Furthermore, there is no requirement to slide the key into an ignition slot to start the engine. If the fob is within close proximity simply tap the start/stop button on the dashboard. Such are the benefits of the keyless system. The problem is that it can also be exploited by a callous, selfish, criminal to steal the car.
Imagine a scenario. Your car is parked, locked, and on your driveway some distance from your house. Its fob is in the house which is far enough away that the low life, money grabbing, criminal cannot simply pull the vehicle’s door handle then expect it to unlock. The criminal’s solution is the relay theft technique.
It requires the thief to stand close to your house with a device that captures the signal from your fob. The signal is relayed to a second, illicit, device far closer to your vehicle. The car, therefore, assumes your fob is in close proximity and unlocks. The criminal then climbs in, starts the engine and steals your vehicle.
How to stop relay theft
Fortunately, this relay theft technique is easy to overcome. The solution is to stop your fob sending a signal for the crook to capture. Simply, therefore, wrap the fob in tinfoil to create a faraday cage that blocks its electromagnetic field, Holly Hubert stated. The alternative is to buy a small, low cost, faraday pouch.
Relay theft is common in The United Kingdom
TRACKER is a company that fits systems to cars so they can be traced once stolen. It further confirmed that the simple, fast, relay theft technique is prevalent and increasingly common in The United Kingdom. In 2017, for example, 80% of the cars it recovered where stolen without a key. During 2016, the figure was merely 66%.
Admiral Car Insurance is aware of such thefts, too. Head of Claims, Lorna Connelly, explained: “We do see claims from customers who have had their cars stolen due to relay theft. It is a problem we advise motorists with keyless cars to be aware of”, she emphasised.