Increasingly, more and more cars offer Keyless Entry—a feature that adds to the convenience but leaves the car susceptible to theft.
How is that possible? Wasn’t it suppose to do the opposite—apart from making it more convenient to access the car?
Yes. But things don’t always turn out as planned. To understand why your fancy car is now vulnerable to theft, you need to understand how the system works.
How does Keyless Entry Work
The keyless entry system basically relies on radio signals and proximity. Keyless fobs contain identity chips that constantly listens for radio signals that are broadcasted by the car. These radio signals have a very short-range distance of around five meters. When the person puts his hand on the door handle or in some cases pushes the button, the car sends a radio signal. The fob is triggered from this signal if it is within the range. Then, the fob also sends its own signal. The car recognizes the signal and then unlocks. So, we don’t need to take out the keys from our pocket and can just hop in and start the car by push of a button.
The Loophole that Thieves’ Exploit
Thieves use a technique known as Relay Theft. In Relay Theft usually, two persons and a pair of relay boxes are involved. The first person finds out the location of the key fob with the help of the first relay box. When the first relay box picks up the signal from the key fob, it captures the signal, amplifies it and transfer it to the second box. While this happens, the second person places the second relay box near the door handle and when it receives the signal from the first box, the car can be unlocked. Once this is done, the second person unlocks the car and drives away.
How to Secure Your Car
Now that you know how relay theft works, here are some precautions that you can take to prevent thieves from stealing your car;
- You can store your key fob in the fridge as it will block the signals of the key fob and the thieves won’t be able to intercept it.
- Store your keys far away from the doors and windows. Storing your keys away from the doors and windows will weaken the signal of your key fob.
- Use a metal box or a Faraday wallet to store your keys. Metal box and Faraday wallet also block the signals that are emitted by the keys due to which the thief won’t be able to track the signal.
- Double check that your car is locked by pulling the door handle and trying to open the car. It is a simple and effective way that ensures that you have locked the car.
- Use steering and gear locks to increase the safety quotient. Even if the thief is successful in unlocking the car, he will have to figure out a way to break the gear and steering locks which will require additional time. If the thief sees that you are using additional safety equipment, he may not target your vehicle as it will take more effort for him to break in and steal the car.
- Do not put valuable things on display. Make sure that your laptop, radio, mobile phone, bags etc. are not lying on the seats or the dashboard as it will attract unwanted attention towards your car. You should store your valuables inside the glovebox or in the boot which should be covered with a parcel shelf.