Keyless car theft, also known as relay theft, is a worrying trend which is quickly growing in the United Kingdom. Breaking or attempting to break a car window has decreased from occurring in almost one-half of incidents to around one in five incidents.
New technology has opened up easy opportunities to take lucrative possessions. Traditionally, car thieves have needed to steal car keys or physically break into a vehicle in order to steal it.
However, criminals are now able to steal a vehicle without keys or physical contact. Instead, they are using relay technology to unlock the car and start the engine. This is simply done by intercepting a signal that is given off by a nearby set of car keys.
Relay theft requires two individuals to work as a pair to pick up a signal from nearby keys and relay it to the targeted vehicle. Keyless vehicles are typically expensive and seen as luxurious, the perfect target for thieves wanting a large financial gain.
How does it exactly work?
Criminals use two relay devices, or transmitters to perform the robbery. The first device will pick up the signal from the nearby key; the signal will then be passed to the second machine which is situated next to the chosen vehicle. Just through passing the signal, the car will open and the engine will start. A video released by West Midlands Police in 2017 shows that it can take just 23 seconds.
What can you do to help prevent the situation?
- -Keep your keys somewhere safe: In order for the relay to happen they need to gain access to the signal. Position your keys far away from the entry point of your home so that the signal is harder to pick up.
- -Store your car in a garage: If you have one it’s a great way to put a physical barrier between criminals and your car.
- -Use a car cover: Another great physical barrier that will cause the process to take longer than just 60 seconds. It will take considerably longer to gain access the car which makes it far less appealing.
- -Secure your vehicle with a wheel lock: Although they can still gain access to the car and take what’s within, they won’t be able to steer the car away.
Although not completely preventable there are effective ways to help minimise your chances of becoming a victim.