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Car crimes resulting in a 'theft from' or 'theft of' motor vehicle are being reported where there has been no sign of forced entry to the vehicle or the vehicle has been stolen with the lawful owner still in possession of the keys.
The following advice has been issued by Thames Valley Police after consulting with the Vehicle Testing Centre in Thatcham:
There are currently two main locking systems for vehicles. These are key fob and keyless entry. Both can leave your vehicle vulnerable to crime if certain precautions are not taken.
Key Fob entry
The system works by sending random combinations of code to the vehicle each time the fob is pressed. As copying the code is therefore useless the thieves have come up with another way to prevent you from locking your vehicle.
Thieves are jamming the signal from your key fob to your vehicle by using a number of different devices. These devices can be purchased from as little as £2 from the internet and come in many forms such as garage door openers and house light controllers/dimmers. Many of these devices act to block your key fobs when you attempt to lock your vehicle.
Thieves are able to block signals in whole areas such as car parks or streets by hiding these devices in bushes with a clothes peg activating the device for long periods of time and without the need for them to be in the vicinity.
There is a solution. Once you have activated your key fob, YOU MUST ensure the lights have flashed indicating the car has received the signal, and then check the vehicle is locked by lifting a door handle.
Keyless Car entry
The signal for a vehicle with keyless entry cannot be jammed. However, the signal used for vehicles with this form of security system is unchanging and broadcasts continuously between the fob and the vehicle. IT CAN BE COPIED.
Fobs made by different manufacturers use different ranges and the signal can vary in terms of strength and useable distance. This is the distance between the vehicle and the range in which the vehicle will be unlocked. This can be up to 30 feet from the vehicle. For many people this could be less than the distance between your vehicle and where you leave your keys once inside your home. YOUR VEHICLE MIGHT NOT BE LOCKED.
Alternatively, if your fob is transmitting continuously, the distance between where the device is in your home and the pavement, driveway etc. may be sufficient for a potential thief to copy the signal. Once copied the thief can not only enter your car but also steal it or any property within it.
The advice from Thatcham is as follows: If you have a vehicle with a keyless entry system, keep the key in a 'Faraday Cage' where the signal cannot escape. This is the same advice as given to us in relation to tap credit and debit cards.
A search online for an ‘RFID blocking case/wallet’, or a ‘Faraday cage vehicle key/fob’ should provide you with a selection of products.
I am very grateful to Mark Glazer of Redbridge Neighbourhood Watch for sending me this information, which was originally published by the police in Hillingdon in West London.
Updated 24th October 2017