13 Tips to Prevent Keyless Car Theft & Keep Your Car Safe

Fatima Buzdar

December 3, 2023

The surge in keyless car theft is becoming a growing concern across different regions across Canada. It’s particularly impacting high-end vehicle owners. While the advanced keyless entry systems offer convenience and security, they’re not immune to the tactics of savvy thieves. 

Among the prevalent methods, key fob signal theft stands out, where thieves manipulate the radio signal emitted by the key to gain unauthorized access to the vehicle.

Feeling uneasy? Fear not! By adopting proper precautions, you can effectively protect your vehicle. Join us as we delve into the common tactics employed by these thieves and provide you with practical tips to prevent keyless car theft. Stay informed, stay secure!

How Car Key Fobs Work

When you press a button on the key fob, it sends a coded signal via radio waves to a receiver unit in the car. This coded signal is unique to your car and its corresponding fob, ensuring security. The receiver recognizes the code, and if it matches the one programmed into the car’s system, it triggers the desired action, such as unlocking the doors, starting the engine, or activating the alarm.

How Vehicle Theft Happens With Keyless Entry Systems

Relay Attacks

Relay attacks are most commonly used by keyless car thieves. This method often involves a pair of thieves working together to intercept the signal from your key fob to your car, allowing them to unlock and steal your vehicle.

The process involves using a relatively inexpensive device called a relay box or relay amplifier, which consists of two components. One part of the device is positioned near the entry points of a home, like windows or doors, to intercept the signals from a key fob inside the house. The second component is placed near the car, where it receives and relays the intercepted signals.

If the car is within approximately 2-3 meters, the relay box captures the key fob’s signal and transmits it to the device near the car, tricking the car’s system into unlocking the vehicle. This method also allows thieves to start the engine and drive away with the car, with the entire process potentially taking less than a minute.

Jamming

Another technique employed by car thieves is jamming, which utilizes a signal jammer, a device that blocks the signal from your car key fob. This is often utilized by thieves to plunder the valuables from vehicles. 

These small, portable devices emit radio frequencies similar to those of key fobs. Thieves use them near the car while keeping an eye on drivers, often lurking in parking areas. When someone presses the button to lock their car, the jammer interferes and blocks the signal, preventing the car from locking. 

Unfortunately, some car owners may walk away without realizing it, leaving the car open and vulnerable to thieves.

How to Prevent Keyless Car Theft

Now that you know about relay attacks and jamming, it’s important to learn how to protect your vehicle from these techniques. Car manufacturers By following these practical tips to prevent keyless car theft, you’ll be well on your way to safeguarding your car effectively.

1. Choose Key Fobs with Sleep Mode

To prevent key fob signal theft, try to opt for a key fob that comes with a sleep mode functionality to shut down the signal if it’s left idle. This feature allows the key fob to enter sleep mode when not in use, preventing its signal from being intercepted by thieves and increasing key fob security. Utilizing motion sensors, the sleep mode can be activated automatically after a period of motion inactivity, e.g. 30 minutes.

2. Turn Off the Key Fob Signal

Some key fobs allow you to manually turn off their signals. This prevents the fob from emitting signals and protects against techniques that manipulate the signal to break into your vehicle. 

3. Keep Key Fobs Away from Windows and Doors

If your key fob doesn’t have the option to turn off its signal, make sure to keep it away from doors and windows. This reduces the risk of thieves intercepting the signal emitted by your key fob.

4. Use Blocking Pouches for Key Fobs

Another effective measure is to keep your key fob secure in a signal blocking bag, such as a Faraday pouch. These pouches have a metallic lining, preventing the key signal from going out of the pouch. This prevents the thieves from intercepting the signal to gain access to your vehicle.

5. Don’t Leave Your Car Unlocked and Unattended

Avoid the temptation of leaving your car unlocked and idling while you quickly run inside your home or a store. This presents a golden opportunity for thieves to seize your vehicle.

6. Ensure the Car Is Locked

Always ensure that your car is locked before leaving it unattended. Look for the indicators to flash and listen for the locking sound. If you don’t see or hear these signs, double-check to make sure your car is securely locked before walking away.

7. Park in Safe Areas Outside Your Home

It’s ideal to park a car in a closed garage. However, if that’s not an option, it’s important to be mindful of where you park it. Most car thefts occur in the darkness of night, making it easier for thieves to operate unnoticed. 

To deter potential thieves, park your car in well-lit areas and consider places with security cameras and high foot traffic whenever possible. These factors make it more daunting for criminals to target your vehicle.

8. Keep Valuables in the Car Out of Sight

Electronics, purses, and other valuables left in plain sight make your car a tempting target. Either remove these items from your car or, if you must leave them inside, ensure they are well-hidden from the outside view.

9. Install Security Cameras

Visible security cameras act as a strong deterrent for thieves. Investing in security cameras for your parking area or driveway is an effective step to enhance security and discourage potential criminals.

10. Use Steering Wheel Locks

Steering wheel locks generally are metal apparatuses that attach to the steering wheel with a locking mechanism, making it impossible to steer the vehicle without the key or a combination. 

While a determined thief could potentially remove it with a power tool, it’s unlikely that most car thieves would be equipped with such tools or call attention through the noise, making this an effective deterrent.

11. Get Window Etching

Window etching involves using a chemical solution to engrave your details, such as your name, address, phone number, and the vehicle’s identification number, onto your car windows. This can deter thieves from stealing your vehicle, as the window etching makes it easier to trace and recover the stolen car.

12. Keep Your Onboard Software Updated

Car manufacturers commonly release updates for the onboard software of your car. Ensure that your system is up-to-date, as the updates can be crucial for car security.

Modern vehicles may receive these updates over the air (OTA) automatically. For cars without OTA, you may need to visit a dealership for updates or download them from the manufacturer’s website onto a USB drive or SD card for manual installation. Additionally, some manufacturers offer mobile apps for updating specific car functions.

13. Reprogram the Key Fob If It’s Stolen or Lost

If your key fob is stolen or lost, it’s advisable to have the keys reprogrammed as soon as possible. This is crucial for optimal key fob security even if you have a spare key and you don’t think your key fob was stolen. It ensures nobody has unauthorized access to your car, should the lost key fall into the wrong hands.

It’s also recommended to reprogram the key fob if you’ve bought a second-hand vehicle. You never know who might have copies of the key fob now belonging to you.

While you may be tempted to go to a dealership for replacing the car key, it’s highly recommended to seek automotive locksmith services instead, as they’re cheaper, faster, and more convenient.

Keep Your Keyless Entry Cars Safe With Top-Notch Key Fobs

Thieves exploit key fob signals through techniques like relay attacks and jamming. To prevent keyless car theft attempts, practical tips include choosing key fobs with sleep mode, turning off signals, using signal-blocking pouches, and employing measures like steering wheel locks and security cameras. Parking in well-lit areas and keeping valuables hidden also enhance security. Additionally, keeping onboard software updated is crucial, and lost or stolen key fobs should be promptly reprogrammed for optimal security.

Have your key fobs been stolen or lost, or are you looking to upgrade your key fob security? We got you covered! We specialize in using cutting-edge technology and equipment to program your transponder key with precision and security. Our transponder programming service comes with a 5-year warranty, providing assurance that you are receiving a dependable and high-quality product. 

Contact us today to enhance your vehicle’s security.

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