Skip to main content

Prevent Keyless Car Theft "Relay Theft"

Vehicles fitted with a smart or passive key (a contactless key) are susceptible to a type of theft called “Relay Theft”.

There are a wide range of electronic devices, key cloning devices and other tools that can be easily obtained by opportunist thieves and criminal gangs to target your vehicle.

The criminals normally work in pairs, targeting vulnerable and desirable makes of vehicles by using cloning devices that have the ability to grab the signal from the smart key so that it appears to the car or van that the key is present.

The whole process can take as little as 60 seconds and for safety reasons, the engine won’t cut out when the key is out of range.

Your vehicle is most vulnerable overnight, particularly if parked on your driveway or directly outside your home where most of these thefts occur.

Manufacturers and industry bodies have been working to combat Relay Theft for many years – if you are purchasing a new car please speak to your car dealer.

How to prevent Relay Theft

1Use a pouch: When not in use either at home, when out and about or on holiday – store your keys in a security pouch. Security pouches are sometimes termed Faraday bags or RFID signal Fob Blocker/shields, these pouches will prevent the signal from your vehicle from being captured using electronic devices.

2Don't leave keys by the door: Don’t leave your keys in the hallway near the front door as fishing for vehicle keys through the letterbox is a prominent method of stealing them. Grabbing the signal will be easier for the thieves if the keys are near the front door.

3Disable fobs: Some types of key fobs can be switched to disabled, so check your vehicle manual or ask your dealer for advice.

4Install a tracker: Tracker systems can increase the chances of recovery of your vehicle if it is stolen. Many systems activate once the vehicle is stolen and track it via GPS and other systems. SBD have several members which specialise in this area and can advise on the best system for your vehicle type and can also fit the product.

5Use locks or clamps: Consider using physical security like a steering wheel lock or wheel clamp as modern car thieves prefer not to attack these types of physical security devices as they want to get away quickly without getting caught.

6Consider CCTV: The installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) which can be linked to your television or video to view your garden is an alternative. If you do decide to use CCTV it is important to read the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) advice on Domestic CCTV systems. Click the button below to find out more: