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.