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How to protect your keys and car from relay theft

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Relay theft is on the rise, but half of keyless car owners fail to protect their motor.

Half of keyless car owners do not protect their keys in any way, leaving their vehicle vulnerable to relay theft.

This is where two thieves usually work together, with one holding a transmitter standing next to the car while the other stands close to the property holding an amplifier.

The amplifier boosts the signal from the key – which constantly emits a signal searching for the car – and sends it to the transmitter which essentially tricks the car into thinking the real key is nearby.

As such, it enables the thief to open the car quickly and quietly, and drive it off without causing any damage.

This type of theft is on the rise with figures from the Office for National Statistics showing vehicle theft rose 22% in 2021/22, compared to the year earlier.

And it is believed that the higher cost of used cars and a lack of available parts is making vehicle theft more lucrative, according to AA Insurance Services.

As part of its study of 15,000 people – 4,000 of which own a vehicle with keyless car entry – 51% said they don’t store their key in anything.

Meanwhile one in five (22%) put their keys in a Faraday pouch – a small pouch with a wire mesh lining which blocks the signal being transmitted.

One in 10 said they store their keys in a metal box, 7% in a safe box, while an equal 1% said they wrap their keys in tin foil or store them in the microwave or oven.

Gus Park, managing director of AA Insurance Services, said; “The key has always been the most vulnerable part of the car when it comes to security, but many are unaware how important it is to protect it.

“Car thieves have gone high-tech and relay theft has been on the rise for some time, yet drivers are still unaware of the risks surrounding keyless entry cars. Keyless entry is becoming more common too with more manufacturers offering the tech on lower specification cars.

“Drivers should do all they can to protect their keys. While a minority store their keys in the microwave it is not recommended and there are simpler ways of safeguarding 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 may need two as this may also be a keyless entry key. They should also be stored well away from the front door and kept out of sight.”