Technology has made it so that a “Gone in 60 Seconds” job is easier than ever.
Theft of any kind is one of those things that leaves a displeasing sour taste in the mouths of anyone who has been through it, but it’s so much worse when the object that’s taken is one’s four-wheeled pride and joy rather than an easily replaceable TV. The problem is that stealing cars is slowly getting easier thanks to the proliferation of keyless entry-systems and “transmitter relay” devices that make it easy for thieves to gain access to cars without a hitch.
This video captured by the West Midlands Police in central England gives us an idea of how these thefts go down. Moreover, it shows how much easier the art of car theft has become for thieves, making it as if they had the keys to the car themselves. And thanks to these transponder devices, that's not far from the truth.
The devices come in two parts. The first is a box that’s placed next to the key (in this, the key is likely close to the outer wall of the owner's house) to pick up its signal and relay it to the second device. That second device is another box that picks up the signal and sends it to the car, mimicking the keys and making the car’s “smart” key system think the keys are close by. Thanks to push button start systems, the thieves simply unlock the car, get in, start it, and drive away in less than a minute. Following the video, independent automotive group Thatcham Research released a list of tips that should help owners of cars with keyless entry systems keep their rides in their own driveways.
First, it’s advised that you talk to the dealer about the features in the car and ask if there’s a software update that helps combat this sort of theft. Second, check to see if the key fob can be turned off. If it can, make sure to do so at night before bed. Third, store the key away from the outer edges of the house since these transmitter boxes only need to be within range (not within the line of sight) of the key to work. Fourth, be on the lookout for sketchy behavior in your neighborhood. Last but not least, look into aftermarket antitheft devices such as steering wheel locks, GPS trackers for your car, or signal-blocking boxes where you can put your keys. Do your part to keep your car in your driveway.