Relay Theft

Relay theft of cars with keyless entry and starting mechanisms is a crime that is on the increase. If you have a keyless car and want to protect yourself from a relay attack, you have a number of options.

How does relay theft work?

Technologically astute criminals are able to amplify the signal from a legitimate key inside the car owner’s home to a receiver by the car – tricking the car into thinking the key is nearby and granting the thieves access. The required amplifiers and receivers can be purchased on the dark web.

Is my car at risk of relay theft?

This type of theft is only effective against ‘keyless’ entry systems. That’s the type of car that unlocks itself as you approach if you have the key in your pocket or handbag. If you have to press a button on the key or insert a key into the lock of your car door to gain access, then you are not at risk of relay theft. Currently, only about 11% of cars on the road have keyless entry systems but, as these tend to be more expensive models, they are particularly attractive to thieves.

How can I protect my vehicle from relay theft?

There are a number of simple measures available to people who want to protect their vehicle from relay attack:

Store your key well inside your home. This makes it harder for a thief with an amplifier to find your key’s signal than if your keys are hanging on a hook by the front door.

  • Switch off your key. Some models of key allow you to switch off your key’s signal when you are not using your car. Refer to your instruction manual (or speak to a locksmith).
  • Physical barriers. You can keep your car inside a locked garage, erect a driveway parking post or attach a steering wheel lock. We can advise on the best locks to consider purchasing for your garage or aftermarket security device.
  • Signal blockers. There are various ‘Faraday’ pouches, bags and boxes that are sold online that claim to block the signal from your key. Always test that a signal blocker actually works by approaching your car with the key inside your new pouch. If the blocker is working, the car won’t open.
  • Key protectors. We can install an ultra thin circuit board that wraps around the battery of your remote key. This 'Protector' detects when your key is not in use and turns off the signal. Reactivate the key by tapping your hand on your pocket or handbag.

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