We’ve all fumbled for our car keys at some point. It often happens at the worst moment too – when we’re standing in the rain, holding a crying child or carrying bags of groceries. That’s why keyless car entry devices, which unlock the car automatically once we get close enough, are so appealing to many people.
Unfortunately, keyless car entry devices are appealing to thieves too.
With hands-free keyless car entry, users carry a fob, a small device that sends a signal to the car. When it’s close enough to the car, generally within a few feet, this signal tells the car to unlock. It’s like pressing a button to unlock the car, but in this case, no button is needed. A similar setup uses a smartphone in place of a fob.
In theory, it should be safe. After all, the car only opens if you’re standing right next to it. In practice, criminals have found ways to exploit the technology.
Criminals can use a device that amplifies the signal, Wired explains, making it seem as if your fob is much closer to the car than it actually is. In other words, your fob might be with you in your house while your car is parked in your driveway, but the criminal tricks the car into thinking the fob is right next to the car, thereby gaining access to the vehicle.
It should be noted that hands-free systems aren’t alone in their vulnerability. Fobs that require the push of a button can also be exploited. Another article from Wired details how hackers use devices to break into cars using these systems.
Car owners can do several things to protect themselves.
- Block the signal. If you use hands-free keyless car entry, consider storing your fob in a metal container to block the signal. You can buy a container designed for this purpose, but some people use other metal containers, even their freezers.
- Remove temptations. Many thieves are only after the items in the car, not the car itself. Do not leave valuable items in your car. To make your car a less attractive target, remove everything when you park. This will also help protect your car against thieves using low-tech methods – such as breaking windows – to steal from your car.
- Bolster deterrence. Some thieves, however, are after the car itself. Consider using an anti-theft device, such as a steering wheel lock.
- Park your car in a safe place. If possible, keep your car in a well-lit area. Video surveillance can also help deter criminals.
As a last line of defense, get comprehensive coverage. If your car is stolen, comprehensive car insurance will provide you with compensation. Higginbotham can help make sure you’re sufficiently protected and pay no more than necessary. Contact us to learn more today.