Tests show keyless cars can be stolen in 10 seconds

Cars with keyless entry systems are much easier to steal than those with conventional locks and ignitions, What Car? has warned.

The car magazine tested seven different models fitted with keyless entry and start technology.

An Audi TT RS and a DS3 Crossback were taken in just 10 seconds, and a Land Rover Discovery Sport in 30 seconds. Cars without keyless technology take on average take two and a half minutes to steal.

The testers used the same technology commonly used by car thieves. In a ‘relay attack’, thieves use a scanning device to pick up the code from a keyfob — for instance while it’s inside your home. This code is then relayed to another device being held close to the car’s door, tricking the vehicle into thinking that the owner is nearby. As a result, the doors are unlocked and the thieves can then repeat the code and push the car’s starter button to activate the engine.

Other security features are rendered useless because the car thinks the owner is gaining access, so the alarm doesn’t sound and the immobiliser is deactivated, What Car? explained.

Responding to the increased risk of theft, some car makers have introduced new security measures.

Manufacturers including Audi, BMW, Ford and Mercedes have started rolling out motion sensor technology, which deactivates the keyfob when it hasn’t moved for a specified time. As soon as the key is moved it emits a code again.

Meanwhile, Jaguar Land Rover has fitted some models with ultra-wide band radio technology that prevents thieves from picking up the signal.

And a security upgrade from Tesla requires a PIN to be entered on the car’s infotainment system before it can be driven.

If your car is fitted with keyless technology, there are a number of measures you can take to protect against theft.

The Association of British Insurers recommends parking in a well-lit and secure area, keeping your keys well away from external doors and windows, and turning off the signal overnight or keeping your keys in a signal-blocking pouch.

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