Keyless car theft – What is it?

Cars with keyless entry unlock automatically when the key comes within a short distance of the car.

Keyless car theft, also known as ‘relay theft’, occurs when a device is used to fool the car into thinking the key is close by; this unlocks the car and allowed the ignition to be started.

Thieves only need to be within a few metres of your car key to capture the signal and can take just 20 to 30 seconds.

If you must push a button on your car key to access your car, you don’t have keyless entry – but please still be aware and look out for your neighbours!

How to protect your car –

Ask your dealer

  • Is keyless entry standard or optional fit on your vehicle?
  • Can the wireless signals on your fob be turned off overnight?
  • Is a motion sensor fob available? This puts the key to sleep and deactivates it when it’s not moving.

Keep car keys safe

  • When at home, keep your car key (and the spare) well away from the car and avoid leaving near your doors or windows.
  • Put the keys in a screened tin/box/bag to disrupt the communication range. Test to check that it works.

Use a signal-blocking pouch

•            The pouch, such as a Faraday bag, is inexpensive and lined with layers of metallic materials.

Use a steering wheel lock

•            A steering wheel lock is an effective mechanical device that thieves’ technology can’t unlock.

Re-programme your keys

•            If you buy a second-hand vehicle, you may not have been given all of the keys. To be sure, get the keys re-programmed so previous owners can’t access the vehicle.

•            Contact an approved auto locksmith or your vehicle manufacturer.

Check if your vehicle has an immobiliser

•            Find out by looking in the handbook or ask a mechanic to check. Fitting a Thatcham-approved immobiliser will make it harder to steal and can lower your insurance premium.


•            If you park on a driveway, park as close to the property as you can.

•            If you have more than one vehicle on your driveway, park the less desirable vehicle in front of the more desirable one to block its access.

Driveway bollards

•            Fold down or removable driveway bollards are a simple and secure solution adding an extra layer of security.

Security cameras

•            A wide range of wired and wireless options are available to put you in control of your security.