Drivers warned of new keyless car thefts: criminals using wireless signal from key fobs

Car theft: New technology 'makes it easier' says expert

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The issue was underlined this week in Northern Ireland as police issued warnings when a BMW was stolen from outside a house in Belfast. Police said the car was locked and entry was not attempted to the vehicle owner’s house where the keys to the car were kept, according to Belfast Live.

Detective Sergeant Best of the Police Service of Northern Ireland said:

“With advances in technology, thieves are now able to gain access to your vehicle by redirecting the wireless signal from your key fob.

“Motor vehicles are extremely expensive, and owners should take the same precautions as they do with home security.

“Where possible, keep your car in a garage or lock your driveway gates.”

He added: “Use physical car locks such as steering column locks and chains, as well as keeping all car keys (including spares) away from exterior doors and walls.

“Motorists are also advised to use a blocking pouch also called a Faraday pouch (lined with metallic material) to help block the wireless signal from your key fob.

“Establish a routine to help keep your vehicle safe, including using your garage if available to secure your vehicle.”

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With regard to the theft of the BMW, DS Best said: “The vehicle was locked and entry was not gained to the vehicle owner’s house where the keys of the car were kept.

“We believe the car was taken sometime between 10.15pm on Wednesday (February 16) and 7am on Thursday (February 17).

“A number of other attempts of theft of vehicles were also reported in the area.

“Our enquiries are underway and I am appealing to anyone who was in the area between these times and noticed any suspicious behaviour, or who knows the whereabouts of the car to call us on 101, quoting reference number 237.”

Meanwhile in England last week Thames Valley Police also issued a warning about a spate of similar thefts.

They tweeted: “WARNING TO READING RESIDENTS. We’re seeing an increase in keyless car thefts across the Thames Valley.

“Criminals only need to be within metres of your car key to capture the signal!”

They also encouraged drivers to keep keys in a pouch or metal tin to block signal and to park non-keyless vehicles in order to block keyless cars in if possible.

UK car theft is on the rise with more than 900 vehicles stolen every week.

Almost 48,500 vehicles were recorded by police as stolen last year, up from about 46,800 in 2020, according to data held by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

The Ford Fiesta was the most stolen car in the country in 2021.

The compact car was taken 3,909 times last year, with Range Rovers in second place.

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