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Keyless Car Theft – Which Keyless Cars Are the Most Stolen Now?

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Keyless cars provide an easy, breezy lifestyle. Gone are the days of having to insert keys or press key remotes to access and drive vehicles. While this sounds appealing, unfortunately, the keyless system can and is being easily hacked by car thieves.

But don’t worry, there’s technology out there designed to outsmart criminals and protect your vehicle.

Let’s get straight into it.

In this article, you will:

  • Explore keyless entry systems and the vulnerabilities that lead to theft
  • Identify common hacking tactics used by criminals for keyless car theft
  • Understand the most targeted keyless cars and factors influencing risk
  • Discover prevention measures to protect your keyless entry car
  • Explore the tools and technologies offered by Cartrack to combat keyless car theft

Keyless entry cars? Let me explain

Imagine strolling up to your car with no jingling keys in hand, touching the door handle and voila — your door magically unlocks.

Welcome to the world of keyless cars, where simply having your car key in your pocket or using an app is all you need to gain seamless access to your vehicle. 

Most of us still remember the days of having to insert and turn an actual metal car key into a vehicle’s door to unlock it. Sounds pretty old-school when you put it like that, but those days are gone. Today, you can open and start most cars with a key fob, card, or even an app.

Modern vehicles have moved from the conventional, bulky key to a compact, advanced fob. This fob emits a unique signal that the car identifies when nearby and unlocks or locks the doors, giving you hassle-free access to the vehicle and allowing you to start the engine with a simple push of a button and be on your way.

It's convenient, futuristic, and can sometimes feel like magic.

What is keyless car theft?

Sometimes magic comes at a cost. While car theft might conjure images of smashed windows and hotwiring, a modern method has emerged: keyless car theft. This sophisticated technique exploits vulnerabilities in keyless entry systems, allowing thieves to steal vehicles without breaking a sweat.

Common hacking tactics used for keyless cars

While keyless cars offer convenience, their advanced technology can also make them vulnerable to sophisticated criminals.

Understanding common hacking tactics is crucial to protecting your vehicle and outsmarting criminals who seek to exploit its vulnerabilities.

1. Relay/replay theft:

Criminals use relay devices to amplify and capture the key fob signal, even inside the owner's home.

Steps:

  • One thief holds a device near the car, mimicking its signal.
  • The other thief holds a device near the key fob (often near your home), relaying the signal to the car.
  • The car is tricked into thinking the key fob is nearby, allowing the thieves to unlock and start it.

2. Signal jamming:

Imagine a radio tuned to static, not music. That's what jamming does. Thieves use signal jammers to block communication between the key fob and the car, preventing it from locking and leaving the car vulnerable to theft.

The big question: Which are the most targeted keyless cars?

While any car with a keyless entry system can be of interest, some are more targeted than others. Factors like the security protocols of the specific system, the complexity of the signal encryption, and the availability of aftermarket equipment for specific manufacturers can influence the risk.

In recent years, carjackings in South Africa have surged, showing an increase of almost 2,000 incidences from the previous year, hitting a peak of nearly 23,000 in 2023, according to Statista. This translates to approximately 63 carjackings per day.

While the reported hijackings prove motorists should be fearful of their keyless vehicles being stolen, the numbers don’t specifically show how many of the cars were keyless entry vehicles.

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Are keyless cars stolen more?

There has been a surge in keyless car theft since 2022, and slowly but surely, more modern keyless cars are on the road than there are conventional key cars. But besides the vehicle being a keyless car, there are other factors criminals consider before hijacking vehicles.

Other vehicle types that are most at risk are:

High-value vehicle targets:

  • Luxury SUVs: These plush rides often come equipped with the latest technology, including high-end keyless entry systems. Their value and popularity make them tempting targets for professional thieves.
  • Premium hatchbacks: Combining sporty performance with modern tech, popular hot hatches are attractive to a wider range of criminals, from joyriders to professional thieves.
  • Full-size sedans: Spacious and luxurious, these often family-friendly vehicles can be attractive targets for organised crime rings, especially models with advanced keyless features.

Additional vulnerability factors:

  • Push-to-start ignition: Vehicles with push-button start systems are generally more vulnerable than ones requiring a key, as simply unlocking the car grants access to the ignition.
  • Car model/era: Generally, newer models with more advanced keyless systems are less vulnerable and certain older models still on the road may have known security flaws exploited by thieves. However, the more advanced vehicles are the ones that are sought after, despite having higher security protocols like alarms and car trackers.
  • Popularity: Cars that are in high demand from thieves due to their resale value or ease of dismantling parts are more likely to be targeted.

Hijacking can be a dangerous and traumatic experience for the victims. If your vehicle falls under the factors listed above, there are a few things you can do to make yourself less of a target, according to the SA Police Service (SAPS):

  • Install an alarm system and tracking device
  • Avoid driving in high-crime areas
  • Be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to avoid being targeted

Why get keyless vehicles?

Like any vehicle, keyless cars can’t guarantee 100% security from car thieves, but they are still gaining popularity among motorists. Why? Well, there are several reasons:

Convenience

No more standing by your vehicle while digging through your pockets and bags for your keys. Keyless cars offer a seamless and secure experience with effortless entry, push-button starts, and remote trunk access. This not only makes life smoother but also ensures added safety, sparing you from vulnerability, especially for those juggling groceries and kids.

Security

With automatic locking and potential alerts if your car moves without the fob, keyless cars provide an added layer of security. All keyless cars have advanced technology that makes them resistant to traditional theft methods like manually jamming the window down with a wire to lift the door locking knob or breaking the door to get inside and sparking the wires to start the car.

Modernity

Owning a keyless car feels like stepping into the future, with features like remote trunk access and walk-away locking adding a touch of modern ease to everyday driving.

Besides criminals copying the fob and running off with your ride, other aspects can leave your car vulnerable, like a lost or dead fob. This can leave you stranded, unable to lock your vehicle after parking and leave it unprotected if it’s unable to lock. Always have a backup plan or spare fob handy.

Prevention measures to protect your keyless entry car

Before we dive into the list of security measures you can take to protect your car, let’s quickly look at a vital one you can practise before you even leave your car.

When stepping away, don’t just rely on your vehicle automatically locking behind you, always manually check if your vehicle has locked. If not, lock it manually, then scan the immediate area for anyone hanging around.

Here are other protection methods you can use to protect your vehicles against car theft:

Steering wheel locks: Physical deterrents can prevent theft even if the keyless system is compromised.

Car alarms and tracking devices: Install aftermarket security systems for added protection.

Distance your keys from your car: When at home, keep your car key (and the spare) away from the car, doors, and windows. Another option is to turn off the signal on your key fob. If you don't know whether your key’s signal can switch off or not, search through your vehicle's manual for the answer.

Faraday pouches/signal blockers: Invest in signal-blocking pouches or Faraday cages to prevent your key fob from transmitting a signal when not in use.

Physical barriers: Keep your car keys in a metal tin or aluminium foil to create a barrier that blocks electronic signals.

Consider additional security measures: Install aftermarket alarms, immobilisers, or GPS tracking devices for extra protection.

Prevention_measures_to_protect_your_keyless_entry_car

How Cartrack helps businesses and everyday motorists combat keyless car theft

While traditional methods like alarms and steering wheel locks still have their place in vehicle theft prevention, when it comes to fleets, fleet management solutions and trusted vehicle tracking companies like Cartrack offer a more powerful counterpunch against modern vehicle theft techniques.

Cartrack’s anti-theft solutions for fleets

  1. Real-time tracking: Imagine your car disappears. Panic sets in, replaced by immediate action as you access Cartrack’s fleet management platform. A map illuminates, pinpointing your stolen vehicle in real-time, its every twist and turn is clear to see. This is the power of real-time tracking, guiding our 24-hour recovery team directly to your stolen vehicle.
  2. Geofencing: Build a virtual fort surrounding any area, such as high-risk zones, to help counter vehicle theft. Every time your vehicles enter or exit these geofenced areas, it triggers an alarm, alerting you to quickly inform authorities of potential theft before the thieves vanish with your vehicle.
  3. Driver ID Tag: Equip each authorised driver with a unique tag that requires them to tap on a sensor to start the vehicle. This swiftly informs the manager of which driver is behind the wheel of their vehicles, ensuring vehicle safety, accountability and transparency.
  4. Start Prevent: Be able to disable and enable a vehicle through the fleet management interface. The vehicle immobilisation will activate only when the ignition is off, ensuring safety for both the vehicle and the driver, as there's no abrupt halt. This feature provides a safe security measure whenever vehicle theft or unauthorised driving occurs.
  5. Smart camera software with live streaming: Experience complete visibility by gaining full access to both interior and exterior views in real time. This provides enhanced tracking capabilities for fleet managers and authorities in cases of vehicle theft.

Cartrack features that protect everyday drivers’ cars from hijackings

At Cartrack, we offer more than vehicle safety solutions for business, we also provide trusted technology that can assist everyday drivers in hijacking events. 

When you call us for assistance, here's what to expect:

In the face of rising keyless car theft incidents, Cartrack offers robust solutions to safeguard your vehicle:

  • Ultimate vehicle protection

    Use our stolen vehicle recovery services (SVR) in the unfortunate event of theft or hijacking. Once a vehicle has been reported, our 24/7 control room and recovery teams leverage GPS tracking technology to locate and recover your vehicle swiftly. With a remarkable recovery rate exceeding 90%, giving you total peace of mind.
  • CarWatch

    This is like your personal digital car guard, an early warning system that customers can activate at the touch of a button through our mobile app. It notifies Cartrack in advance if your parked vehicle is moved without your knowledge.
  • Protector

    Cartrack Protector offers 24/7 professional roadside assistance at the push of a button on the Cartrack mobile app. It provides assistance in battery jumpstarts, tyre changes, car towing, and even emergency and accident services whenever needed, like in the unfortunate event of being hijacked and being harmed as the outcome.
  • Limited recovery warranty

    If your vehicle has been stolen and, for some reason, Cartrack cannot recover it, you can use a recovery warranty to claim up to R150 000 in cash-back payment to help you replace your stolen vehicle. This service comes with Ts&Cs.

Count on Cartrack as your trusted ally, especially in the face of rising keyless car theft concerns. Face keyless car theft worries with these Cartrack solutions.

Outsmart car thieves with Cartrack's advanced vehicle tracking solutions

Whether you own a sleek new ride with keyless entry capabilities or a reliable classic vehicle, Cartrack has your back! Our vehicle monitoring and tracking solutions are tailored to protect your investment, providing a safety net for every journey. Safeguard your vehicle today, contact Cartrack.

The answer to safeguarding your keyless entry car lies within. Discover how to outsmart thieves by learning more about keyless car theft.