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Keyless car thefts: new cars ranked 'poor' for their security systems

Published 24 June 2019

Car buyers need to ask the right questions when buying a new vehicle to prevent then becoming victims of keyless car theft, according to car security experts Thatcham Research.

The independent body has tested the security systems of seven new cars and ranked four of them inadequate - including the DS 3 Crossback, Mazda 3, Toyota RAV4 and Volvo S60.

>> Top 10: Cars most vulnerable to keyless theft

"Keyless entry/start systems are often optional or included with trim levels, so buyers need to understand that they could raise the theft risk profile of their new car by ticking that box," said Thatcham's chief technical officer, Richard Billyeald.

A car is stolen every five minutes in the UK - with many thieves exploiting a car's keyless entry system using kits bought online.

To operate, a criminal will stand near the car with the transmitter, while a second places the amplifier near the front door of the house. If the car’s fob is within a couple of metres, the amplifier will detect its signal and amplify it, sending it to the accomplice’s transmitter. This will allow them to open and start the car without the key.

Out of the four cars ranked as 'poor' by Thatcham, three of them would be given a 'good' rating without keyless entry and start systems. The Volvo S60, meanwhile, would be branded 'superior'.

>> Top 10: Signal blocking, keyless entry theft pouches and boxes 2019

Some car manufacturers are introducing systems to combat keyless thefts, usually by using motion sensor enabled fobs. These will go into sleep mode if the fob hasn't moved for a short period, preventing criminals from extending their range using a relay kit.

As such, the BMW 7 Series, BMW X7 and Porsche 911 have been ranked as 'superior' by Thatcham.

Drivers concerned about their car being stolen are advised to use a signal-blocking Faraday pouch which will stop thieves being able to pick up a signal using relay devices.

Comments

flying_porker    on 24 June 2019

I use a Disclok steering wheel lock on my Mazda 3. I also keep my car keys in a metal safe box to stop any possibily of the codes being lifted by villains.

Why these systems are used when they can be so easily hijacked by thieves I don't know. Car security is too important for gimmicks like this.

conman    on 24 June 2019

The sooner people stop buying keyless entry cars the better and the sooner the manufacturers will find a solution. I find nothing wrong with the old remote fob just press a button simple. Don't forget you are paying a premium to have keyless entry for what!!! Higher insurance premiums. Because if you think the insurance companies are going to stand the loss think again.

jchinuk    on 24 June 2019

Manufacturers, well Ford, do have a solution. On Fiestas (and to be rolled out across the range), the key fob deactivates once it is stationary for a short period, so there is no signal to pick-up with the extender. It was featured on HJ a couple of months ago.

Reverend Anthony Shaw    on 24 June 2019

Manufacturers, well Ford, do have a solution. On Fiestas (and to be rolled out across the range), the key fob deactivates once it is stationary for a short period, so there is no signal to pick-up with the extender. It was featured on HJ a couple of months ago.

That won't work as you are walking away from the car with the keys in your hand or pocket, as in a car park.

diddy11cg    on 24 June 2019

I opened my car remotely with the key fob and then placed it in my Faraday bag. When I pressed the start button, a message came up on the screen saying "No key detected". So a Faraday bag is the simple solution. Just remember to use it,.

Mike Cross    on 24 June 2019

We use a tin that used to contain luxury tea. The lid fits closely onto the tin, and works as a Faraday cage, but allows room for all the other keys also on the key ring. Note that not all tins with apparently close fitting lids will work. You need to check the one you want to use that it really is blocking the signal. Just take the tin with the key in right up to the car door and check your keyless door won’t open. If it doesn’t open, I believe the key is sufficiently shielded.

Engineer Andy    on 24 June 2019

Hopefully the new gen-4 Mazda3 will prove better in that regard than the gen-3 car. It's an excellent car other than that, but it would prevent me from buying one if it wasn't improved or the facility be available to disable the feature on non-bottom of the range models.

Heidfirst    on 24 June 2019

The RAV4 keyfob can be disabled from sending via a keypress sequence & you can disable the keyless entry entirely should you want from the head unit. Whether Thatcham were aware of this or simply give a rating assuming that people are too lazy to actually use these options ...

Engineer Andy    on 24 June 2019

The RAV4 keyfob can be disabled from sending via a keypress sequence & you can disable the keyless entry entirely should you want from the head unit. Whether Thatcham were aware of this or simply give a rating assuming that people are too lazy to actually use these options ...

I wonder which version of each model (i.e. how current the data is - the lastest model today, or the previous one from a few [or more] months ago?). The same applies to the Mazda3.

Heidfirst    on 25 June 2019

The new RAV4 has only been actually delivered in the UK for a few months & afaik there have been no changes during that time i.e. even the first deliveries had this ability.

My guess is that they use how the car is delivered as the baseline test rather than how it can be configured but imo it would be useful to have the information on both states.

DeadBat    on 26 June 2019

Or you can use something like Ghost alarm, the one that use button combination to start the car. Yes, it is on the expensive side, but in my opinion worth every penny. Especially if you're spending £25k+ on a new car.

Roy Tubbs    on 26 June 2019

Regarding Faraday cage bags. They work well but most car keys are on a bunch with other keys and because of the 'bulk' do not fit properly into a standard sized faraday bag. Rather than take the car fob off the bunch every time to fit into a smaller bag, buy the 'larger' size of bag e.g. 200mm x 100mm to ensure you can securely place the whole key bunch into the bag.

cbr1100xx    on 1 July 2019


Have just ordered a new Seat Alhambra, chose the top of the range but one the SEL because it has not got keyless ignition.

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