Crime Trends

The Rise in Keyless Car Theft

Recent figures published by the government shows that car theft is on the rise again in England and Wales, increasing by 52% in just six years[1].

As the finger is pointed at keyless entry systems, Tracker is warning motorists to increase their level of car security. 92% of all vehicles stolen and recovered by Tracker in 2019 were stolen without using the owner’s keys.

“We are seeing more and more keyless car theft taking place across the country,” explains Clive Wain, Head of Police Liaison at Tracker. “It’s fair to say that criminals continue to stay one step ahead of manufacturers and ‘relay attack’ is one method car thieves have increasingly adopted. Relay theft is when two criminals work together using an electronic signal relay to intercept a key fob signal, usually when the key fob is within the victim’s home.  Cars are being stolen and driven off within seconds. It’s clear that people are unintentionally leaving themselves vulnerable to these kinds of attacks by putting their keys in easy reach of relay devices.”

How can I protect my car from keyless theft?

A spokesman from the Association of British Insurers said that criminals are exploiting the vulnerabilities of the entry system by using pairs of radio transmitters to capture the signal from the vehicle’s fob, among other methods.

He added: “The theft risk will be one of many factors taken into account by insurers when assessing the price of your insurance policy.

Clive adds, “The good news is there are simple precautions people can take. Whilst the relay devices can receive signals through walls, doors and windows, metal is its enemy, so putting keys in a metal tin or the microwave is a cost-effective way to thwart the criminals.  Alternatively, invest in a metallised signal blocking pouch, such as a Faraday wallet, which is designed to shield electronic keys from relay attacks

Are there other ways to protect my car from being stolen?

“It’s also worth remembering that vehicle security should be multi-layered and shouldn’t just rely on the keyless security system. Physical barriers, such as crook locks and wheel clamps will deter thieves. And whilst investing in a tracking device won’t stop a car being stolen, it can significantly increase the chances of police locating it and returning it to the rightful owner. This, plus added vigilance, dramatically contributes to keeping thieves at bay.”

Added security measures include;

  • Tracker system          
  • Steering wheel locks
  • Locking wheel clamps
  • Pedal box locks that encase the clutch and brake pedals
  • Locking driveway posts
  • On-board diagnostic port (OBD) locks – aimed at preventing electronic key compromise
  • VIN window etching – making your vehicle much less attractive to car cloners 
  • Keeping your car in a garage

Tracker has a unique partnership with UK police forces. Unlike other stolen vehicle recovery devices, Tracker’s unique technology can locate vehicles anywhere, even when they are hidden in a garage or shipping container.


[1] Crime in England and Wales in 2019

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