It's widely known that keyless entry systems fall short in providing complete protection against car theft. The growing concern of keyless car theft, also known as a "relay attack," poses a significant threat as more vehicles today rely on keyless entry and ignition systems with smart fobs. If you own a car equipped with a keyless entry system, it's important to take measures to safeguard yourself.
How Do Keyless Fobs Work?
Keyless car theft involves the communication between the vehicle and the fob using low-power radio signals. Typically, the fob needs to be within approximately 36 inches of the car for the signals to be effective. However, thieves have developed equipment that can amplify these signals, known as a relay hack. This extends the range of the system, tricking the car into thinking the fob is near when it's actually elsewhere. As a result, the vehicle can be unlocked and started.
What Exactly is the Risk I Need to Be Concerned With?
Relay attacks primarily target theft of items inside the vehicle rather than stealing the entire car. While car theft is possible, once the vehicle is driven out of range of the smart fob and turned off, it cannot be restarted without the fob present. How Can You Protect Yourself?
To Help with protecting yourself from potential vehicle theft through a relay attack, consider the following precautions:
Avoid leaving valuable items such as purses, GPS units, shopping bags, or electronics in your car. If you must, store them out of sight in a locked glove box or trunk.
Whenever possible, park your car in a closed garage as it significantly reduces the appeal to thieves.
Block your vehicle by parking it between your garage and another less attractive vehicle.
Use a steering wheel lock, commonly known as a club, as a deterrent against thieves.
Install motion detection lights and exterior surveillance cameras at home to deter criminals.
When not in use, store your key fobs (all of them) in a metal container. The metal acts as a barrier, interrupting radio signals to and from the smart fob.
Alternatively, you can purchase inexpensive RFID pouches with metal mesh linings. These pouches shield the key fob from sending or receiving radio signals.
Remain vigilant even after taking precautions, as thieves have been known to return to steal a replacement vehicle after the first one has been stolen.
Remember, it's important to avoid placing key fobs in a freezer or microwave oven, as these methods can damage the fobs, resulting in costly replacements and reprogramming expenses.