Phone lines open today until 7pm
01254 956777
How It Works Apply Now

Keyless car theft: What is it? How do you prevent it?

Keyless entry is a perk offered with many new car releases, locking and unlocking your car doors when you’re in or out of proximity to your car via fob. But whereas we might have traded in the inconvenience of rooting in your bag or pockets for your keys, with it has come the increased risk of relay car theft, or keyless car theft to give it its more popular name.

How does keyless car entry work?

The fob, which you have in lieu of a traditional ignition key, contains a chip which will identify a corresponding signal broadcast by the car. When you typically put your hand on the door handle, it will unlock.

Some new cars now even feature a keyless boot opening, with sensors on the back bumper picking up the signal from your fob and allowing you to shake your foot underneath the bumper so it will open like a magic trick. This is especially handy if you have your hands full of shopping or children who are easily impressed.

Even if your new car doesn’t have keyless entry, chances are it might now feature keyless start/stop where a button is pressed to start the ignition when the key fob is inside the cabin. All of these things offer a level of convenience which  has become priceless for those in the market for a new car, but it comes at a cost…

What is keyless car theft?

Keyless car theft exploits the above conveniences to give thieves easy access to your vehicle, allowing them to open the doors to and drive off in minutes without even needing your fob. How?

Keyless car theft infographic Thatcham Research

As highlighted in the above infographic from Thatcham Research, a team of two will work together with the first car thief standing by the targeted vehicle with a transmitter while the other uses an amplifier device to try and pick up the key fob signal. Once it has been picked up the transmitter replicates the signal of the car fob and relays it to the car. This allows the thieves to get in, start the ignition, and drive away.

Watch the below footage from West Midlands Police to see just how quick it can happen:

Keyless car theft on the rise

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) recently revealed that, between May and June 2021, vehicle crime increased by 3.1 percent. The bulk of this was identified as keyless theft.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Vehicle Crime, Assistant Chief Constable Jenny Sims, said: “Whilst the rapid development of technology has dramatically improved the experience of drivers it has also allowed criminals to exploit weaknesses in electronic security.

“We are working closely with car manufacturers to help them design out crime by sharing intelligence and equipment seized from criminals.”

Earlier this month, seven members of an organised crime gang in Leicestershire were convicted for over 50 keyless thefts totalling £2.4m worth of vehicles.

What are manufacturers doing about it?

In 2019, Ford were the first manufacturer to offer motion sensor enabled fobs as a quick fix for relay car theft. The motion sensor detects when the car has been stationary and triggers a sleep mode in the engine. This means the fob will no longer respond to attempts to relay its signal, with the car only restored back to usability if the owner is in proximity and moves the key.

Simon Hurr, Ford security specialist, said: “The online availability of [relay car theft] devices […] has long been a problem for Ford, our industry and crime fighters. We are pleased to respond with a simple but effective solution – swiftly implemented to help protect owners of our top-selling cars.”

Since then other manufacturers such as Audi, BMW and Volkswagen have followed suit and begun to offer motion sensor-enabled fobs.

How can I avoid keyless car theft?

If you have a keyless fob for your car and a motion sensor isn’t offered as an option by the manufacturer, there are a variety of other ways you can protect yourself from keyless car theft. These include:

  • Purchase a Faraday Pouch: Available from as little as £5, these pouches perfectly fit your key fob and block RFID, Bluetooth, and WiFi signals to ensure your key fob signal can’t be replicated. Ensure the pouch is hidden out of sight when the car is not in use.
  • Use a Ghost Immobiliser: This aftermarket immobiliser will add another layer of security to your car and works in the same way as the PIN on your debit card. By using the buttons on your steering wheel, door panels and centre console, you can create a unique code that needs to be entered before you can drive your car. However, please check the terms of your car finance agreement prior to installing this.
  • Buy a steering wheel lock: While it might seem a little bit retro, you can’t beat the classics! A steering wheel lock is one of the sturdiest and most secure ways to prevent your vehicle being stolen and is why motorhome owners continue to employ them.

“We urge manufacturers to bring keyless technology to market in secure form and remove from drivers the onus to provide additional security.” comments Richard Billyeald, chief technical officer, Thatcham Research. “Closer collaboration on the design and implementation of new technologies is the key to identifying vulnerabilities.”

Representative Example of Credit

We expect more than 51% of our customers to achieve this rate.

Loan Amount Total Cost of Credit Representative APR 60 Monthly Payments Deposit Amount Loan Term Total Amount Payable
£7,500 £3831 19.1% APR £188.85 £0 60 Months £11,331

All offers are subject to change at any time, you must be 18 or over and finance is subject to status, vehicle availability and terms and conditions apply. We can introduce you to a limited number of finance companies, a commission may be received. Failure to maintain payments may result in termination of your agreement and the vehicle being returned, this could affect your credit rating and make it more difficult to obtain credit in the future. All prices correct at time of publication.

We purchase a wide variety of vehicles from all over the country to ensure the best quality and value for our customers, all of our cars go through a thorough inspection process and if they do not meet our standards we do not sell them. We endeavour to inform our customers (where possible) the provenance of the vehicle they are buying and as such we will always inform you if the vehicle has previously been either an ex fleet or hire car. Should your vehicle be an ex hire/fleet car please do not be concerned as we would never value this vehicle differently when you come to part exchange it and there is no difference to the CAP valuation either.

You should try and estimate the distance you will travel as accurately as possible to try and avoid excess mileage charges at the end of your contract.

All pictures and/or photos and car descriptions on this site are for illustration and reference purposes only and are not necessarily the vehicle on offer. All offers are subject to change at any time and are subject to finance approval and vehicle availability. All prices correct at time of publication. E & OE.

Hippo Vehicle Solutions t/a Hippo Motor Finance is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. FRN 658076. We are a Credit Broker not a Lender and can introduce you to a limited number of lenders. Subject to status and to UK residents only (excl. the Channel Islands). Individuals must be 18 or over. Guarantees and indemnities may be required. We typically receive a fixed commission calculated by reference to the vehicle model, product or amount you borrow, for introducing you to a lender but this does not affect the interest charged on the agreement, all of which are set by the lender. Images for illustrative purposes only. Hippo Vehicle Solutions t/a Hippo Motor Finance is an Appointed Representative of AutoProtect (MBI) Limited for insurance distribution purposes. AutoProtect (MBI) Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Its firm reference number is 312143. You can check this at

We endeavour to ensure that all information including the specifications and finance availability are accurate. Whilst we make every effort to display correct information we are aware that errors may occur occasionally. We are not able, therefore, to guarantee the accuracy of all information especially when given to us by third parties. If you do require clarification of some information you have seen on our website, please email us at . This does not affect your statutory rights.

We are a broker not a lender and our registered office is Unit 26 Trident Park, Trident Way, Blackburn, BB13NU.