Car Mechanics (UK) - - Contents -

There have re­cently been two thefts of cars in my neigh­bour­hood – a BMW and a Mercedes – and both had key­less en­try; CCTV footage showed the thieves at the win­dows of the own­ers’ houses be­fore steal­ing the cars. I un­der­stand that elec­tron­ics are used to am­plify the sig­nal from the key­less fob so that the car thinks that the owner is about to get in and the door is un­locked. I have been told that if the fob is placed in a metal box the sig­nal can­not be used to open the cars. Do you know if this works? John Fisher Mod­ern se­cu­rity de­vices are be­ing by­passed by mod­ern crim­i­nals. The key­less ve­hi­cle emits a low-level sig­nal which is de­tected by the ve­hi­cle’s re­mote fob. When the fob is close enough to the ve­hi­cle to catch the sig­nal, it al­lows the doors to be un­locked. Thieves have be­gun to use a wire­less trans­mit­ter which re­lays the sig­nal to an­other unit that can be placed right next to the ve­hi­cle. The ve­hi­cle then be­lieves its own fob is within range and al­lows the open­ing and start­ing func­tions.

The best way to pre­vent this kind of theft is to en­sure the keys are not near the door or close enough to an out­side space to al­low this re­mote trans­mis­sion of sig­nal. Plac­ing the keys in a metal box will se­verely limit the sig­nal out­put and would also pre­vent the re­mote ac­tion. Com­pa­nies are now sell­ing wire-bound cases to pro­tect the re­mote fob while in the owner’s pocket – this is aimed at pre­vent­ing a sim­i­lar type of theft while the owner is out shop­ping, hav­ing left the ve­hi­cle in the car park.

Other thieves are em­ploy­ing equip­ment that will gain ac­cess with­out the need for the orig­i­nal keys. Once they’re in­side, the sys­tem can be re­pro­grammed. This method is re­spon­si­ble for a num­ber of re­cent thefts of Range Rovers. The so­lu­tion is for a tracker or sep­a­rate im­mo­biliser sys­tem to be fit­ted, al­though a less high-tech but very ef­fec­tive method is the mod­ern ver­sion of the Crook-lock or Sto­plock, which pre­vents the steer­ing wheel from be­ing turned.

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