Modern tech is making 9 in 10 car thefts easier

Alarming new figures show that more than 9 in 10 stolen and recovered vehicles in 2022 had been taken without the car keys present.

Criminals are using the tech on modern cars to their advantage, gaining access by hacking keyless car fobs and vehicle circuit boards.

Admiral Car Insurance is now warning owners that modern tech should not be relied on for car security as thieves turn their attention to electronically compromising vehicles.

The car insurer says traditional analogue barriers are now the best way to help prevent being a victim of modern tech car theft.

"Criminals are very sophisticated when it comes to electronically compromising cars, as shown by the 25% rise in vehicle theft that occurred last year," says Clive Wain, head of police Liaison for Tracker, a security partner to Admiral.

"Thieves exploiting technological vulnerabilities is a huge problem facing car owners, with theft as a result of a relay attack or CAN bus hacking sadly all too common today."

The most frequent high-tech method of car theft sees two criminals working together using an electronic signal relay to intercept a key fob signal.

A newer method is the hacking of a vehicle’s CAN bus or circuit board to disable the locks and alarm. Both methods can see thieves steal cars and drive off in seconds.

Analogue barriers

Ironically, it is now analogue barriers that are the best deterrent to high-tech car crime.

Wain has four top tips to deter criminals from hacking into cars:

Physical barriers

Anything that makes a car harder and more time-consuming to remove helps. A locked garage, concrete driveway post and steering lock are all recommended.  

Thatcham-accredited tracking device

A Thatcham-accredited tracking device makes it easier to locate vehicles, and is therefore a deterrent for thieves supplying so-called chop-shops. Tracker also uses VHF technology, in addition to GPS and GSM systems, which overcomes the problem of signal jamming.  

Layer up security

Parking in a well-lit area, engaging security systems on your vehicle, hiding items of value and then using physical barriers such as steering wheel locks are all ways of reinforcing vehicle security.

Use certified relay protection

Use a Faraday pouch to block any electromagnetic signals transmitted by an electronic car key – but make sure it is a genuine, certified Faraday pouch. There are fake Faradays being sold online, which won’t offer any protection at all.

Ask HJ

Is the Toyota RAV4 easy to break into and steal?

I keep reading about how easy it is to break into and drive away a Toyota RAV4 by removing the headlight and reaching the wiring. Toyota sales people claim to know nothing about this. Any idea what the situation is? I’d rather wait to get a car not so easily stolen.
Unfortunately, there are a number of documented cases of RAV4s being stolen via what's known as a CAN Injection, where the vehicles CAN (or Controller Area Network) is tricked into thinking that a key is present due to bridging some of the wiring loom connections. Toyota in the UK does not confirm the situation but it has been widely discussed online. However, there are other models that are also prone to cyber theft thanks to cars relying more and more on online systems, with Land Rover models also prone to theft. Most car thieves are opportunists, which means a good old-fashioned deterrent such as a mechanical steering lock is a good idea.
Answered by Craig Cheetham
More Questions