The boss of an AA is encouraging motorists to put their keyless car fobs inside a secure pouch, locked in a box and microwaved after hackers stole his wife’s £50,000 car.
Edmund King, one of Britain’s leading motoring experts, said the thieves intercepted his wife Deirdre’s car key signal and managed to steal a keyless Lexus.
He now keeps his car fobs safely in a wired pouch that blocks the hacker’s signal, sealed in a red metal box, and then microwaves the box in his backyard.
Now he is encouraging others to do the same.
After the AA revealed 51% of motorists take no measures to protect their keyless car fobs, experts have weighed in with a series of safety tips for worried drivers, including microwaves, tin foil, Faraday pouches and empty tins.
A survey of more than 4,000 British drivers found that half have taken no measures to protect keyless cars from criminals who use relay tactics to target them.
Mr King told the Telegraph: ‘We think the thieves came to the house at around 11.45pm and used their computer equipment to unlock the car and smash it into the car or something.
‘We didn’t notice it until the next morning, by which time it was probably in the container with the plates changed on the way out of the country.’
He suspects his house was already staked out, and the thieves were able to intercept the keyless car’s signal when his wife parked her car at 6 p.m.
The AA is now urging car owners to use similar tactics to those used by Mr King after a survey of keyless car owners found half of their fobs were stolen.
Mr King said: ‘Are we so lazy that we can’t press the button on the key fob or turn the key if it protects us.’
Using measures like the Faraday pouch (left) and the microwave trick (right) can help prevent interference with car fob signals.
Tin foil can also provide some protection for car fobs, but it can only be used for a short period of time as it needs to be replaced once it starts to tear.
They are also calling on manufacturers to notify motorists that their cars may be at risk.
The AA chairman also bought a £110 steering wheel lock and is considering retractable safety bollards and gates to stop his cars being rolled out of the driveway.
A keyless crime wave has hit British motorists hard in recent years.
Just 101,198 vehicles were stolen in England and Wales alone last year, recent Home Office figures show – and many of these were stolen cars with keyless technology using the ‘relay’ tactic.
Despite sky-high levels of car crime and a constant news stream of CCTV footage showing motors being pinched from owners’ driveways at the end of the night, only half of drivers of cars with technical features use specialist tools and household items to prevent this. Stolen, according to a new report.
At the height of crime in the 90s, about half a million cars were stolen annually, but in recent years, there has been a significant increase in theft cases.
Experts say this is due to the high prices of used cars and the lack of available parts, making the in-demand motors very attractive to criminals who steal them.
Claims Specialist, Claims Management and Adjustment, recently issued freedom of information requests to the Home Office and said that 72 per cent of stolen vehicles are never recovered, costing the insurance industry an estimated £1.5 billion a year.
Yet half of owners of cars with keyless technology admit to not taking any preventative measures to protect their vehicles.
The president of the AA, Edmund King (pictured), is encouraging motorists to follow his tips to prevent their car being stolen after it is stolen, with some tips such as wrapping your car fob in tin foil.
Motorists can buy specialist Faraday pouches for their key fobs, which are inexpensive protective sleeves that block the signal generated by the key and therefore protect their car from criminals.
Drivers are also being told that keeping keys to household appliances including freezers and microwaves can prevent criminals from breaking into the signal.
However, 51 per cent of motorists with models with keyless technology told the AA they would not use any of these items.
Keyless car owners, where do you store your keys?
51% My key is not stored in anything
22% Faraday pouch
9% Metal box
7% Safe box
1% Wrapped in foil
1% Microwave oven
Source: AA poll of 4,079 keyless car owners
A survey of 4,079 drivers with keyless cars found only a fifth had a Faraday pouch.
Another 9 percent said they store their keys in a metal box to block signals, while 7 percent use a dedicated safe box.
One percent said they wrap their keys in foil to keep them safe, while a similarly small percentage admitted they store their keys overnight in the microwave or oven.
The remaining 13 percent say they use other security measures to protect their keys from criminals.
Gus Park, managing director of AA Insurance Services, said: ‘The key has always been the weakest part of the car when it comes to security, but many people don’t realize how important it is to secure it.
‘Car thieves have gone high-tech and relay theft has been on the rise for some time, but drivers are still unaware of the risks surrounding keyless cars. Keyless entry is also becoming more common as more manufacturers offer the tech in lower specification cars.
‘Drivers should do their best to protect their keys.
‘While a minority store their keys in the microwave it is not recommended and there are simpler ways to protect your vehicle.
‘For as little as a tenner, people can reduce the risk of theft by keeping their keys in a Faraday pouch.
‘Depending on the spare key, drivers need two as it can also be a keyless entry key.
‘They should be kept away from the front door and out of sight.’
How do criminals steal cars using relay tactics?
Criminals often go in pairs to steal keyless cars. One is standing next to the vehicle holding the transmitter while the other is standing near the house holding the amplifier.
To target the latest – and usually high-end – motors, thieves are arming themselves with cheap technology that allows them to take cars without stepping onto someone’s property to get the keys.
Keyless entry and keyless ignition mean that the driver only needs to hold the car key on his body – for example – not only to open the door but to start the engine.
While this convenience is a convenience, it is also one that makes owners susceptible to car crime.
Usually two thieves will work together when planning to pinch a car with keyless technology. One stands next to the car holding the transmitter while the other stands near the house holding the amplifier.
An amplifier can amplify the signal from the key inside the property and send it to the transmitter.
The transmitter essentially becomes a ghost key and tricks the car into thinking the real key is nearby. This then unlocks the car and allows it to be driven away without any damage.
Insurers estimate that around half of car thefts are currently conducted this way because criminals can do it quickly and in near silence, with gangs typically targeting unsuspecting vehicles in the middle of the night.
Five tips to protect your car relay from theft
1. Keep your key fob safe and well away from your vehicle: Keep your key or fob as far away from the vehicle as possible, and in a Faraday pouch if possible.
Metal tins and boxes will also provide similar levels of protection, as will placing your key fob in the fridge freezer, microwave or oven – just remember to put them in there before opening the latter two.
Also, don’t forget your spare keys and apply the same level of care you would to your main keys or fob.
2. Invest in your vehicle’s safety: A simple steering wheel lock or wheel clamp may look ugly but is usually enough to stop even hardened criminals.
Halfords recently launched the first fingerprint-activated lock, costing £60, in a bid to cut down on the rising rate of keyless theft.
These items usually require criminals to use a drill or saw to cut, and therefore often serve as a good first line of defense.
3. Keep in mind when locking the vehicle: It may sound simple but if your vehicle has keyless entry, make sure it’s locked every time you’re not in it, even if it’s just for a few minutes while you’re paying to park somewhere – thieves can take an unlocked car. in seconds.
When it comes to locking, most modern cars have keys with two settings – for single and double locking.
Many drivers don’t realize that on many models your car will only be single locked if you press your key fob.
This means that if you break a window you can manually open the car by reaching in and pulling the handle from the inside.
These key fobs require a second press of the lock button to enable all security features. It’s important to read your car’s manual when you first get it and know how to lock your car safely when you’re not in it.
4. Think about where you park overnight: Driveway parking posts are an inexpensive yet effective way to deter thieves.
Drivers can also go a step further and install lockable gates on their driveways, while simple CCTV systems can provide added peace of mind.
Luxury cars, which are more vulnerable to theft, should be parked in a locked garage whenever possible.
5. Install the tracking tool: Installing a tracker system in your vehicle, such as a Thatcham approved device, provides an extra layer of security.
A tracking device won’t prevent your vehicle from being stolen, but it will significantly increase the chances of the police recovering it and returning it to you.