While keyless entry cars are great for a hands-free life, you might be worried this tech leaves your pride and joy vulnerable to thieves. Luckily, there are some super easy hacks to make sure you don’t fall foul of this type of crime - and our guide here contains some of the best methods.
What is keyless car theft?
Some of us will be, ahem, wise enough to remember the days of turning an actual metal key in a door to unlock a car. But that's old school. These days, you open and start most cars using a key fob, card or, in some cases, an app on your smartphone. It's super convenient. But, like contactless debit and credit cards, keyless technology can sometimes be vulnerable to illegal cloning. This is when thieves trick your car into believing the digital key is being used, when in actual fact, they've just created a clone.
Don’t panic though, because there are some surprisingly basic ways to keep your wheels protected from this new type of crime. We’ve got you covered with the anti-theft 101.
1. Signal blocking
A cheap, very quick and brilliantly effective way to protect your key when it's lying around at home is to buy a signal-blocking box or pouch. By storing your car keys, fob or card in an aluminium tin (even grandma’s old biscuit tins), or a special signal blocking box, the signal between the car and key is blocked. This means thieves can't intercept it and clone a new one. If you’re out and about, then a Faraday pouch is your best friend. Think of it like RFID blocking wallet to protect your credit cards from contactless theft. Simple, but highly effective.
2. Get a motion sensor fob
Lots of car manufacturers use motion sensor fobs now. These fobs stop transmitting a signal if the key is left idle for a certain amount of time. If you leave it on the counter, it will time itself out and stop actively transmitting, so no-one can clone it. Handily, it also helps to save the battery life. Some fobs can also be switched off manually, which we’d advise doing, especially at night.
3. Keep on top of car software updates
Like your smartphone's updates, an increasing number of cars have over-the-air (OTA) updates that download the latest software programs released by their makers. Make sure you accept these when the notification pops up because many of them include new security measures, rolled out in response to new types of criminal technology.
4. Steering wheel lock
Sometimes you can’t beat the old ways, and a steering wheel lock makes driving away almost impossible until it's removed. Even in this day and age, it’s a huge deterrent, and one that you can keep and use on future cars as well - assuming their wheels don't change shape... While not completely effective (there are tools that can cut or break these locks), they do slow down thieves, plus they force them to make noise. That alone can convince them to move on to another, less secure car.
5. Check your car's technology
It’s important to remember that car manufacturers are always working to be one step ahead of the game, inventing advanced anti-theft technology like ultra wide-band radio, so thieves can’t tap into the car's signal. There’s also an option in many cars now to turn off the keyless entry system when the car’s parked for long periods. Some cars even have password entry! So best consult your car's handbook to see what systems you could make the most of.
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