After steadily decreasing for 10 years, car thefts are now on the rise with the number of cars being stolen tripling in the worst affected areas. The leading cause of the increase in thefts is due to keyless car technology and the availability of technology bought online that can counteract it.

Despite being designed to be convenient for motorists, keyless technology is actually causing security concerns as thieves are finding it easier to hack the systems used and steal cars from both driveways and public car parks, using technology that can be bought online.

Car theft on the rise

Car theft has been declining over the past decade due to vehicles being fitted with immobilisers, alarm systems, and tracking devices, but the introduction of keyless technology has seen incidents increasing with some areas experiencing 3 times as many car thefts than they did three years ago.

There were 85,688 reported car thefts in 2016 which is up 30% on 2013’s figure of 65,783, and Warwickshire has seen a 189% increase in car theft over the past three years which makes it one of the most affected areas in the country.

Other areas which have seen significant rises are Hampshire with a 59% increase, West Yorkshire with an increase of 57%, and Norfolk which has seen a 56% rise.

In addition to this, Cleveland Police have stated that 90 keyless cars have been stolen in their region since December, and half of these were Ford Fiestas which have been the top-selling car for 10 years and are very popular with families.

How cars are being stolen

With the right equipment, a thief can steal a car in just 30 seconds, all they need to do is boost the key fob signal so that it reaches a device held by a second thief waiting by your car door. The first thief simply holds a relay box by the front door and this box can detect a keyless fob from up to 100 yards away.

The car door will then unlock due to receiving the boosted signal from the fob, and the second thief can get into the car, press the ignition button, and drive away in no time at all.

Relay boxes are not hard to get hold of and can be picked up from Amazon for £260.29 or eBay for £278.77 which makes them very accessible to those who want to steal keyless cars.

Many of these stolen cars will then be taken to illegal ‘chop shops’ where they will be dismantled so that the parts can be sold. It is for this reason that cheaper, popular models such as Ford Fiestas are being chosen as there is a lot of demand for these spare parts.

Despite 25% of all keyless car thefts in the West Midlands being Fords, Ford themselves have said that the numbers do not suggest that their cars are being targeted, and most car manufacturers currently say that cars are more secure now than they have been before.

Tips for keeping your car safe from theft

If you are concerned about your car being stolen there are things that you can do to ensure that you are keeping it as safe and secure as possible, both at home and when parked in a public place:

  • Invest in a steering or wheel lock as these are very obvious deterrents which thieves will want to avoid
  • Keep keyless fobs in metal tins or in a bag which will block its signal like a faraday cage so that it cannot be boosted via a relay box.
  • Don’t leave your car keys in the hallway at home with your other keys, wallet and coat as some enterprising thieves can grab it through the letterbox.
  • Always check that your car is locked before leaving it as thieves have also been found to use jamming gadgets to intercept the signal emitted when you try to lock the doors.
  • If your car is parked on a driveway make sure you have security lighting, you could also invest in a camera that triggers an alarm to your phone if there is a motion on the drive.

The important thing is to be aware that car theft is on the rise across the country, make sure that you are aware of the car theft statistics in your local area, which should help you make an informed decision as to whether you need to be more protected in various ways from this rising threat. Investing in a metal box or faraday cage bag to put your keyless car fob in is probably the simplest and cheapest thing to do right now and costs around £10.

Have you experienced any security issues due to keyless technology? Do you feel that cars are the most secure that they have ever been? Let us know in the comments below.

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