Key hacking is when thieves attack built-in systems that can unlock a car when the key is nearby, without having to press a button on the fob or put a key in the lock.
If close to the car, the key sends a short-range signal that tells it to unlock, even if it’s in your handbag or pocket.
But car thieves have devised ways to scan for and hack the signal to give them access to some cars.
High tech methods see car thefts up by over half
How does car key hacking work?
Key hacking is also known as relay theft. Thieves use electronic car key relay boxes, putting one near your home to receive signals coming from your car key fob through the walls or windows.
This first box then boosts the signal to a second device near the car, to trick it into registering the key as nearby and unlocking the doors.
How can you prevent thieves hijacking your key fob signal?
You can use a two-pronged approach to prevent your car being stolen:
Take preventative measures (see key fob blockers below) to stop someone from stealing your key fob signal
What is a car key fob blocker?
Car key signal blockers are metal-lined key wallets or special bags designed to keep your keys safe, also known as Faraday bags.
They’re relatively inexpensive at around £5 upwards, but not all are of the same quality. What are a few extra pounds when you consider the value of the vehicle it’s protecting?
Be sure to test the bag once you've bought it to make sure it works, by holding it close to the car with the key in and checking whether or not it opens.
Make sure you put the keys in the bag as soon as you have locked the car, and don't forget to use one for your spare car key in the house. If you get one large enough, you can also pop your mobile in it which blocks the signal so you won't be distracted by your phone while you are driving.
Do your research to find the right product for you. Also, make sure you know how to use the bag, some may have more than one pouch, but only one is the specially lined pouch.
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It's worth knowing that some police forces have in the past offered Faraday bags for free, while others offer discounts on security products offered by partners. So it’s always worth checking your local force's crime prevention advice to see if anything’s available.