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Thieves using signal-amplifying technology to steal keyless cars, Suffolk police warn

PUBLISHED: 11:42 28 February 2018

Thieves no longer need to use screwdrivers and crowbars to break into keylass cars. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCK PHOTO

Thieves no longer need to use screwdrivers and crowbars to break into keylass cars. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCK PHOTO

Archant

Police in Suffolk have reported a rise in criminals taking advantage of keyless -entry cars, with technology replicating the signal of cars fobs being used to steal them.

Offenders are using scanning equipment which can capture the signal from a fob used to gain entry into a keyless car, and transmits it to the vehicle to automatically unlock it.

With a key not needed to start the car, offenders can then gain entry to the car, start it and drive away without issue.

It is not known how much the issue has increased by, but police have warned motorists to take steps in preventing their vehicle being targeted.

A spokesman from Suffolk police said: “Criminals are exploiting the vulnerabilities of keyless entry system using pairs of radio transmitters by capturing the signal from the car’s fob.

“Keyless entry are those that allow drivers to open and start the vehicle without even touching the fob or even removing it from their pocket.

“Keyless entry systems on cars offer convenience to drivers, but can in some situations be exploited by criminals.

“Concerned drivers should contact their dealer for information and guidance, and follow our simple security steps.”

People are being urged to speak to their car dealership to find out if software updates are available which help protect cars from would-be thieves, and reminded to keep fobs as far away from cars as possible, or to see if settings are available to turn fobs off when not in use.

The force spokesman added: “Keeping your keyless entry fob out of sight is not enough – thieves only need to gain proximity to the key to amplify the signal.

“Drivers are also being urged to keep both sets of keys in a faraday cage or pouch which blocks the signal from the fob.”

Other measures such as wheel, pedal and steering wheel locks can also deter thieves, police added.

The issue has also left insurance firms having to adapt to the new technology, as keyless security measures can impact on claims.

A spokesman from AXA Insurance added: “Cars with keyless entry can be extremely useful, however in some instances they can also be vulnerable to new types of theft.

“Keeping up with these kinds of changes helps us to protect drivers even as technology advances.”

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