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.
If a vehicle has been in an accident, an insurance company may send out an assessor to decide what level of damage has been done to it. They will place it in one of four categories and you should be aware of these when buying or selling a vehicle. Vehicles classed as Category A or B should never see the road again. Vehicles classed as Category C or D are potentially salvageable but will be considerably reduced in value and you should consider the economic value of buying or selling one. Below is a more in depth explanation of each category.
Category A — is the most severe level of damage and should under no circumstances end up back on the road. It may not even be in a fit state to used for parts eg. flood or fire damage.
Category B — is the second most serious level of damage and like Category A should under no circumstances end up back on the road. The majority of Category B vehicle are classed as end of life. They may either be destroyed or broken apart for non-safety critical parts.
Category C — vehicles will have suffered some form of significant damage in the past, however the insurance company decided that the parts and labour involved in repairing this vehicle would have been more expensive than replacing it. This is called ‘beyond economical repair’. Category C vehicles are normally sold on to salvage dealers who either strip for parts or repair and put them back on the road.
If buying a Category C vehicle it would be advisable to get an inspection by a qualified mechanic or assessor to report on whether the vehicle has been safely repaired. A Category C Vehicle is worth considerably less than an identical vehicle that has never been written off. Normal depreciation percentage would be approximately 20% depending on the quality of the repairs.
Category D — vehicles will have suffered some form of damage in the past, but of a lower level than a Category C write-off. An insurance company decided however still decided that repairing this vehicle would have been more expensive, perhaps due to the cost of covering a rental car or waiting for parts, than replacing it. The same advice applies as with buying a Category C write-off.
Our advice when buying a car is to make sure it is TrustHub Verified and that you do a car history check on it from one of the many providers out there. If it comes back as a insurance write-off then consider it carefully, it may be worth it to you for the reduced price, but do get an inspection done if you’re still interested. http://www.MyVehicle.ie for example can provide both.