Relay car theft is growing in prominence
Millions of drivers could be at risk of having their car stolen in a relay car theft hack.
According to figures from TRACKER, 96 per cent of motorists it surveyed are at risk of having their car stolen by criminals using a relay car attack.
In 2016, 66 per cent of TRACKER’s stolen vehicle recovery customer thefts were committed by way of a ‘relay attack’, confirming how prevalent this crime is becoming in the UK.
Relay car hacks is when criminals use a pair of radio transmitters to intercept the signal from a keyless entry car fob to trick the car into thinking the thief has the keys.
Recently a pair of criminals demonstrated how easy it was to steal a brand new Mercedes in Birmingham, taking just one minute to open it and drive away.
The hack requires one of the transmitters to be in range of the key fob, which the research reveals Brits are making very easy for the criminals.
A quarter of drivers are leaving they keys in the hallway overnight, which is the most common room thieves use to intercept the signal.
A further 13 per cent are leaving them on the hallway table, which is as good as leaving the vehicle unlocked.
“We’re seeing more and more of these relay attacks taking place across the country,” explains Andy Barrs, Head of Police Liaison at TRACKER.
“It’s clear from our survey that many people are unintentionally leaving themselves vulnerable to these kinds of attack, by putting their keys in easy reach of relay devices.
“The good news is there are simple precautions people can take.
“Whilst the relay devices can receive signals through walls, doors and windows, metal is its enemy, so putting keys in a metal tin or the microwave is a cost effective way to thwart the criminals.
We’re seeing more and more of these relay attacks taking place across the country
“Alternatively, invest in a metallised signal blocking pouch, such as a Faraday wallet, which is designed to shield electronic keys from relay attacks.
“It’s also worth remembering that vehicle security should be multi-layered and shouldn’t just rely on the keyless security system.
“Physical barriers, such as crook locks and wheel clamps will deter thieves. And whilst investing in a tracking device won’t stop a car being stolen, it can significantly increase the chances of police locating it and returning it to the rightful owner.
“This, plus added vigilance, dramatically contributes to keeping thieves at bay.”
Thieves stole brand new Mercedes in one minute using the hack
TOP TIPS ON HOW TO AVOID VEHICLE THEFT
Check it’s locked
Always double check that your car is physically secure and alarmed, when using keyless locking systems. Wait to see the flashing hazard lights confirm it’s locked. Thieves frequently lie in wait and block locking signals as owners walk away from their cars.
Keep keys out of sight
Leaving keys in the hallway or on the kitchen worktop means thieves can break in and swipe them quickly, before driving off in your car. Put them in a drawer or out of sight in a bag, at least.
Block electronic key fob signals
A faraday wallet is designed to shield electronic car keys from relay attacks – a new theft technique that involves extending a key fob’s signal by relaying it from one device to another. But you could also put them in a metal tin or microwave overnight to protect them from a relay attack.
Add layers of security
Physical barriers can be effective in deterring thieves. Consider adding a crook lock or wheel clamp to your car. Alternatively, a driveway parking post or just locked gates can stop thieves in their tracks.
Install a ‘ghost immobiliser’
For another layer of protection, add a secondary barrier to your car’s factory fitted immobiliser by having a unique access code to start your car.
Invest in a tracking device
A tracking device won’t stop your vehicle being stolen, but it significantly increases chances of police recovering and returning it, if thieves do take it.