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Tracker’s top tips to prevent keyless ‘relay attack’ theft

Car tracking and security specialist Tracker has published a list of top tips on safeguarding against keyless ‘relay’ car theft as it warns that nearly 96% of car owners are vulnerable to an attack.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class theft using radio device

Mercedes-Benz C-Class theft using radio device

Footage published by West Midlands Police last week showed how thieves stole a Mercedes off a driveway in Solihull in less than 50 seconds by using radio transmitters to trick the car into thinking they had the key.

Such a method is becoming an increasingly prevalent way for thieves to steal cars – Tracker says that 66% of its stolen vehicle recovery customer thefts in 2016 were committed by way of a ‘relay attack’ – with many drivers vulnerable to such attacks.

Latest Tracker research found 25% of respondents said they leave their car keys somewhere in the hallway overnight while a further 25% leave their keys in a dedicated key pot or on a key hook elsewhere downstairs and 15% put them in a drawer in a downstairs room – making them vulnerable to relay attacks.

In response, Tracker has published its top tips on preventing keyless theft:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.