23 May 19

Theft of keyless cars are on the increase - so how do you stop cyber thieves hacking your company cars?

After decades of declining car theft statistics, car crime is on the increase again in Britain as a new generation of tech-savvy thieves hack their way into desirable cars.

Instead of carrying crowbars and screwdrivers to break in, 21st century car thieves are equipped with transponders and signal amplifiers, working in pairs to make ‘relay attacks’ which bypass digital vehicle security.

The latest Crime Survey from the UK’s respected Office for National Statistics reported a 2% increase in vehicle crime – much of which was attributed to a 9% increase in vehicle theft. 

Drivers of high value premium brands or high performance models are believed to be at heightened risk of being targeted by criminal gangs intent on ‘stealing to order’.

Last year, Association of British Insurers members paid a record number of vehicle theft claims, which rose by 29% on 2017 to a record annual high of €425 million.

In response to this alarming increase in vehicle crime, LeasePlan has issued updated advice to drivers on how to avoid becoming a victim. Circulate these tips among drivers to minimise the risk of company cars getting hacked.

1. Block the signal
Metal-lined Faraday pouches or boxes are a simple, low-tech solution. Instead of hanging your keys on a key hook or leaving them on the coffee table, place the key fob in the Faraday pouch or box to stop thieves amplifying your car key signal.
2. Make it harder to enhance the signal
When you’ve parked up, keep the fob as far away from the doors and windows of your home or office – at least five metres if possible.
3. Switch off your key fob
It’s possible to turn off the signal to prevent some key fobs transmitting any signal entirely. This feature isn’t always obvious or straightforward, so check the vehicle handbook or speak to a dealer for guidance.
4. Immobilise your vehicle
Locking the steering wheel or blocking your drive makes the vehicle harder to move – even if they do succeed in hacking the key fob. It’s also worth bearing wheel clamps in mind if you’re leaving your car parked for an extended period of time.
5. Increase the chances of recovery
Consider adding a tracking device to your vehicle. Widely available and reasonably priced, these types of devices could help to quickly locate your stolen car.
6. Check your insurance
Check the wording of your insurance policy. Some insurers won’t pay out unless there are signs of ‘forcible or violent entry’, so it’s worth checking this detail with your provider.
7. Remember the basics
Make sure you park your vehicle in a well-lit and secure location and remove or hide any valuables from view. Double check your doors are firmly shut and the car is locked before walking away.

Author: Mark Sutcliffe