Knowsley Council joins Knowsley’s local policing team in urging residents to be especially vigilant when it comes to looking after their vehicles following reports of ‘keyless’ car thefts in the borough.
Offenders have found a way to clone wireless key signals from car keys inside homes, enabling them to open the vehicle on the driveway, start the engine and drive the vehicle away. This means the criminal does not have to break into homes to steal key fobs.
However, residents can buy what’s known as a Faraday Bag/signal blocking case for their keys which will help block the signal from the fob. Priced at around £10 and under, they are available from well known online retailers.
Knowsley Local Policing Chief Inspector Chris Ruane said: “Although cars today are generally a lot more secure than they were 20 years ago, keyless cars come with a unique set of vulnerabilities that owners need to take seriously.
“To be clear – if your key fob has a button on it that you need to push to unlock your car – it’s not keyless. Keyless cars open automatically when you get near the car as long the fob is in your pocket.
“Yes – it’s convenient. But keyless car thieves only need to be within a few metres of your vehicle for as little as 20 seconds to get it open, get the ignition started and be off. They use a ‘relay device’ to basically clone your key, even while you feel like it’s safely in your house or your pocket.
“The good news is that there a couple of inexpensive quick wins you can use to protect your car. The first is a Faraday pouch. You can get them online, they aren’t expensive, and all you do is put your key (and your spare key) in there and it stops those relay devices from working. Just keep it stored in there. For a bit of extra confidence, you can even test it yourself. Put your fob in the Faraday pouch and walk up to the car with it. If the car doesn’t unlock, it’s working.
“Some people keep their fobs in a metal tin. In some cases that can work – but it depends on the tin. Test it out to be sure.”
“Technology might have moved on, but a steering wheel lock is still a good precaution. Keyless car thefts can be so fast that thieves feel emboldened to try their luck. A good old fashioned steering wheel lock is really going to slow that down and will act as a good deterrent for targeting your vehicle.
“Obviously we’d always advise people to park their car in a locked garage, but if you haven’t got one you can still park defensively: close to your home, with the car facing the house. Lights and CCTV are always a good idea for any kind of crime prevention.
“Finally, when you get out of your car, always check it’s actually locked before you walk away. Keyless car thieves can use electronic signal jamming technology to stop your key working, hopping in and driving off as soon as you’re out of sight. So check. And if you’re unsure, lock it manually.”
Residents can also take further steps to prevent their vehicle being stolen or damaged:
- Lock your vehicle when parked on your drive. This greatly reduces the possibility of it being targeting by an opportunistic thief.
- Never leave valuables on display.
- Keep your keys safe, and out of view when at home.
- Consider securing your car with more traditional devices and invest in a steering lock or similar
- Double check electric locking. Electric devices can be used by criminals to jam the electronic signal from your keyfob, always check that your vehicle is locked before walking away.
- Don’t ever leave your car running and unattended. During the winter months do not leave your vehicle unattended while de-icing.
- Contact your dealer and check if your vehicle has any outstanding software updates, which may improve security.
- Check if the keyless fob can be turned off/on, your dealer can confirm and advise how to do this.
- Be vigilant and report any suspicious activity in your neighbourhood to the police.
You can also find crime prevention advice available on Merseyside Police’s website. Here you can find out how to safeguard your vehicle while here you can find out how to deter anyone from tampering with your vehicle.
Always call 999 if a theft is in progress and you can also report any information on suspected theft and sale of stolen vehicles via @MerPolCC or anonymously to @CrimestoppersUK on 0800 555 111 or via their online form
Residents are also asked to report any suspicious people, vehicles or behaviour via 101 or online here.