Six ways tech-savvy thieves can break into your motor – and how to keep your car safe

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TECH-SAVVY thieves are using new techniques to break into your car without smashing a window or picking a lock.

But simple measures – like storing your keys in a secure location – can reduce the risk of your vehicle being pinched overnight.

Thieves can access your car using cheap technology bought online
Getty – Contributor

The Sun revealed earlier this week how thieves could steal your car in just six seconds using a legal gadget.

Our team was able to unlock a Ford Focus in just six seconds – as well as nine other cars in a matter of moments – using the scanner.

The device allows criminals to steal a vehicle that is 200 metres from where the keys have been left.

These are the common techniques thieves are using to unlock your car and drive off without being detected.

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Signal relaying

Using simple technology, thieves can steal your vehicle by capturing the unique signal which is emitted from your car keys.

Criminals will hold up wireless transmitters to your front door or window, while a partner stands close to your car.

The technique can trick your car into thinking the key is nearby and will automatically open your motor.

Signal jamming

Signal jamming is another common technique used to stop you from locking your car in a public place.

Using a similar device to signal relaying, thieves can block the command to lock your car meaning it could be left open without you realising.

Some jammers have a range of up to 75metres which means your vehicle could be targeted in a public car park.

Key programming

Once inside your motor, criminals can effortlessly start your ignition by accessing the car’s software.

By plugging in this small device into a small port in the front foot well, thieves can program a blank key fob to the code needed to start the engine.

Close range testing

Most fobs send out a very strong radio frequency meaning your car could be in range, even when your keys are inside your house.

On the off chance this may be the case, thieves can simply try to open your vehicle’s doors and then start the car using key programming devices.

HOW TO AVOID KEYLESS CAR THEFT

  1. Double check: Listen out for the sound of your doors locking and if you don’t hear it make sure to double check.
  2. Signal blocking: Find a safe spot to hide your keys more than five metres from the car. You can prevent relay theft by keeping your fob in a metal pouch at night to block any signal.
  3. Use a steering wheel lock: This old-school method could deter thieves from stealing your car in the first place.
  4. Fit a tracker: These devices can alert you when your car is active and if it’s travelling in a new area.
  5. Switch your key fob off: Some manufacturers have included a power setting in the key fob which can be turned off overnight
  6. CCTV: Cameras will often deter thieves from stealing your car and can be used to locate the person who stole it.
  7. Neighbourhood watch: Always report any suspicious behaviour in your community to the police.
  8. Lock it away: Thieves are less likely to target your car if it’s locked away in a secure garage.
  9. Keep updated with latest software: Many manufacturers are now updating their in-car security systems to stay ahead of these attacks.

Code grabbing

Code grabbing is another technique used which requires technology available to be bought online.

When locking your car doors, thieves can access the signal using a small device which can calculate the unique code to unlock your car’s security.

App hacking

Although most car manufacturers prefer to start their car using a keyless fob, some have started to allow drivers to unlock their vehicle using their smartphone.

If hackers can get access to your phone, they can login into your car and gain access.

How to avoid keyless car theft

Double checking that your car is locked after you’ve pressed your keys can secure your vehicle against several keyless entry techniques.

You can prevent relay theft by simply keeping your fob out of sight and out of range of your vehicle at night.

In some cases, leaving the key in a aluminium tin will also block thieves from accessing the radio frequency needed to open your car.

A £10 wallet can also be used to protect your keys from attacks.

The pouch – which is available at Halfords – has a metallic lining which isolates the radio signal from your fob.

Many manufacturers are now updating their in-car security systems to stay ahead of these attacks, so remember to download any security updates from their websites to further safeguard your motor.


If you still fear that yours will be accessed, it’s possible to manually turn it off electronic fobs over night.

Fitting an old-fashion steering wheel lock to your car will also deter thieves from nicking your car, as well as installing CCTV cameras in your garage.

If thieves do still your motor, CCTV cameras can help police identify your car and the people who have stolen it.

It may also pay to install a tracking device into your car which can send you an alert if the car isn’t following it’s regular trips.

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