This recent video of a car being stolen from a the driveway of a house without the keys demonstrates a new and rising trend amongst car thieves.
For many years the improvement in car security features meant that car thieves had to break into your house to get the keys to start your car – now they need merely stand outside.
So how are they doing it? It’s a simple concept – many new cars come with keyless entry or ignition. You need only have the key on your person for you start or open the car. This convenient system is based on radio signals given out by the key and received by the car. If the signal is strong enough it must mean you’re nearby. Or are you? What the criminals here are doing is using a signal repeater to amplify the weak signal given out by the key so that the car thinks it’s much closer that it actually is. So although your car keys are on the hall table, the car thinks they’re right beside it.
The equipment needed to trick the car is relatively simple to buy or assemble so as criminals cotton on, this will be come more widespread. When it first started happening many people were disbelieved by their insurance company when their car was stolen and were never compensated. That’s still a risk today.
What do I need to know about it?
As a car owner you need to know that it may be possible with your car. Don’t worry though, it’s simple to prevent by keeping your car key in a metal container – like a biscuit tin – that prevents the signal from escaping.
If you’re buying a car you should know that this type of theft is possible. Although most of the cars stolen this way will be broken for parts it is always wise to check two things when it comes to keys:
- Is there two of them? – You don’t want the car stolen later that week by the ‘seller’ using the second one.
- Can you turn the ignition of the car off and back on again? If you can’t, walk away then and there.