If you are under the impression that your modern luxury car is safe from being stolen thanks to its sophisticated anti-theft systems, please be aware. The days of hotwiring cars are long gone. Instead, these days, thieves use advanced technology to steal cars and the more expensive ones are more vulnerable. The UK police have issued a warning to drivers about keyless entry systems and how they can be easily tricked.
The UK’s National Police Chief’s Council said that “organized crime gangs” are using widely available signal relay devices to steal cars. These devices basically relay the short-range “friendly” radio signal emitted by key fobs and trick the car’s keyless system into falsely sensing the fob in close proximity.
According to several reports, cars from brands like Tesla, Lexus, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Jaguar, and Land Rover are being increasingly targeted by keyless car thieves. In the UK alone, keyless car technology accounts for nearly 50% of all vehicle thefts. In an interview with Daily Mail, Managing Director of LV= Heather Smith said, “Most car theft happens near people’s homes, but with a better understanding of the technology and a few simple security measures, you can make your car a lot less appealing to thieves.”
The police department is closely working with automakers and insurance companies to make the keyless system safer by sharing intelligence and handing over equipment seized from the thieves. Dodge recently showcased a “double verification” system for the keyless entry feature. It limits the engine to 675 rpm unless a correct PIN is entered into the infotainment system. However, the UK police have also advised drivers to store the key fobs in metal tins or protective pouches that prevent the radio signals from being read by such relay devices. There are many security cam videos on the internet that show these thieves gaining access to parked cars and driving away in less than 20 seconds.