With the rapid evolution of technology, the automotive industry has witnessed substantial improvements in car security. Yet, in a surprising twist, car thefts are on the rise. This anomaly can be attributed to the ever-advancing tactics employed by tech-savvy thieves. As they adapt to outsmart sophisticated new security systems, car theft has transformed into a technologically driven challenge. In this article, we unravel the complexities of modern auto theft and provide expert insights to help car owners safeguard their vehicles against these high-tech criminals.
The shift has seen a growing trend in thieves exploiting keyless entry systems and employing techniques to intercept signals from key fobs, compared to older methods, such as hotwiring which has practically become obsolete in modern cars.
As car thieves become increasingly sophisticated with their methods it’s important to stay vigilant and understand how they’re able to outsmart certain technologies, especially those aimed at making our lives more convenient. By staying informed on the latest tactics employed, owners can proactively safeguard their vehicles.
Implementing a few key precautions to minimise opportunities of theft can greatly reduce the chances of falling victim. Of course, obvious procedures like always keeping your keys secure, locking your vehicle (even when briefly unattended) and making sure valuable items are not visible inside your vehicle can help, as well as considering Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) insurance to cover you for any unforeseen events, including theft.
If you're a Motability Scheme member, your vehicle will be covered by insurance, but remember that personal items are not covered by the Motability insurance policy.
Further measures such as steering wheel locks, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) etching, alarms, and Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking systems can provide additional layers to deter thieves. Despite this, it's essential to remain mindful as no method is foolproof. It's important to understand advanced strategies used by car thieves, like signal relaying and jamming, key programming, and app hacking to take appropriate measures to prevent them.
Let's look at our tips to help you shield your car from advanced car theft attempts.
Be cautious of suspicious individuals or activities near your vehicle, especially in car parks. Thieves may use signal jammers to disrupt the communication between your key fob and the car, meaning that when you press the ‘lock’ function on the fob the jamming signal interferes, and your car remains unlocked.
Pay attention to the flashing lights and locking sound that indicate your car is locked. If the lights fail to flash, it could suggest signal interference is stopping your car from locking. While it might seem more convenient to walk away and lock your car at the same time, it’s recommended to always double check that your car has locked to make sure. If you notice any anomalies, move to a different location and report the suspicious behaviour to the authorities.
Signal relaying is a technique used by car thieves to amplify and transmit the signal from a key fob, enabling them to unlock and start the vehicle without physical contact. Thieves exploit wireless communication between the key fob and the car's entry system, even when the key fob is inside your home. Although a key fob may be out of range, thieves can utilise range extenders to increase the unlocking distance.
To prevent this use a Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) blocker or Faraday pouch to store your key fob when not in use. These pouches provide a barrier and disrupt the radio signals, preventing your car from being targeted with relaying or amplification techniques that unlock and start your car.
Thieves exploit app hacking techniques by targeting the vulnerabilities of car-related mobile apps to gain unauthorised access to car controls and/or sensitive information. This can enable them to unlock and start your car without directly interacting with your vehicle, key fob or app.
Protect your smartphone or mobile device with a strong, unique password or biometric authentication. Regularly update the apps to ensure you have the latest security patches and features. Be cautious of downloading apps from untrusted sources and verify the legitimacy of any app updates before installing them. If available, always enable two-factor authentication for added security.
Thieves may attempt to clone your key or programme a new one to gain unauthorised access to your vehicle. Always keep your car keys secure and avoid lending them to unfamiliar individuals.
Additionally, consider opting for a vehicle with a key fob with rolling codes or encryption features as they provide an extra layer of protection.
If you're still concerned strengthen your car's security by implementing additional layers of protection, such as a steering wheel lock and enhanced alarm systems which make it significantly harder for thieves to bypass and steal your vehicle. CCTV or a doorbell camera that covers where the vehicle is parked outside will also deter potential thieves.
Additionally, although they won’t directly prevent theft, install a GPS tracking system and secure yourself with GAP Insurance, if you aren't already covered, to offer added security and financial protection against car theft.
When installing security devices, such as alarms or GPS tracking systems, opt for professional installation to ensure proper functionality and effectiveness of all the products you're fitting.
Many specialist adaptation installers can also fit security systems to your vehicle, so if you're having an adaptation fitted to your vehicle ask to find out how they can help you to keep your vehicle secure.
Having your car broken into and your possessions stolen can be very distressing, so here are a few simple tips from theMetropolitan Police to help keep your vehicle, and what’s in it, safe.
1. Always lock it.
2. Close windows and the sun roof to prevent ‘fishing’.
3. Secure your number plates with tamper-resistant screws.
4. Fit locking, anti-tamper wheel nuts to secure alloy wheels.
5. Secure anything that’s on the outside of your vehicle.
6. Take it with you or hide it.
7. Hide electrical items and leave no clues.
8. Park in well-lit and busier areas.
9. Take your documents with you.
10. Choose your car park wisely.
For more advice and practical car theft prevention ideas, visit theMetropolitan Police website.
As we navigate the intricate web of modern auto theft, it's clear that safeguarding your vehicle requires a multi-faceted approach. Some measures cost next to nothing. For example, it's under £20 for a key fob Faraday pouch, which would ensure your vehicle is safe from RFID attacks, which is quickly becoming the most common method of vehicle theft.
By staying informed about the evolving tactics of tech-savvy thieves and implementing a combination of precautionary measures and advanced security technologies, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to car thieves.
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