van driver

Despite being a downturn of thefts since the beginning of the pandemic, car thieves are becoming more knowledgeable each day. A risk of potential car thefts are on the rise in the UK and to have a good understanding of the risks out there will put you in a great position to prevent yours from being stolen.

What is relay car theft?

Commonly known as keyless car theft, a relay car theft involves the transmission of signal from your car key to unlock and drive the car away. Thieves move the signal across to their own device and can steal your car in just a few minutes.

A keyless entry system is exactly what it says. Allowing drivers to unlock and begin driving without turning or using a key, providing the key fob is on your possession somewhere. Thieves will collect this signal using advanced technology and can get into your car’s computer even without a key fob.

As high as 96% of drivers are susceptible of having their car stolen by lawbreakers according to data from car security firm, Tracker. With Keyless entry and ‘connected’ cars most at risk of this (i.e. any car with internet features enabled).

How do Relay attacks work?

Normally two people are involved in the attack. One standing by the vehicle, the other near the house with a device which picks up signal from the key fob. This device relays the key fob transmitted signal towards the car and unlocks it to start up for immediate getaway.

Incredibly, these devices can be bought by thieves online for around £100. With the Daily Mail reporting they can use a device to unlock a Ford Fiesta, they managed to drive away in under 2 minutes. With a warning from Germany’s ADAC about BMW and Peugeot systems being especially simple to hack.

How You Can Avoid Relay Thefts

  • A faraday wallet can block signals from car thieves, these can be bought online relatively cheaply.
  • Ensure the car is always locked, and double check this.
  • Keep keys hidden, not in open areas such as kitchens and hallways.
  • Physical layers of car security, such as crook locks and wheel clamps for your car.
  • Fit a Ghost Immobiliser, to include a unique access code before the car is allowed to start up.
  • Add a tracking device, improving the chances of finding your car once it has been stolen.

It mostly comes down to common sense too, as people accidentally are exposed to relay attacks by leaving keys out in the open. For example Tracker research resulted in 50% of car owners left keys in the hallway or a key pot, with just 4% using a faraday type enclosure to prevent relay attacks.

Relay attacks are unfortunately more common than we might expect. The more expensive a car is, the higher the chance that keyless entry is part of its package. Meaning the higher chance of getting stolen if precaution is not taken. Luckily