How to protect your car against relay theft

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A gloved hand opening a car door

There are lots of different ways thieves could steal your car, from breaking your windows to something more sophisticated like relay theft, so you need to be proactive about protecting your car. 

Read on to find out what relay theft is, which cars could be vulnerable to it, and how you can try and prevent it.

What is keyless entry theft?

Relay theft (otherwise known as keyless theft) is a way of stealing a car by tricking its keyless entry system. 

It’s usually carried out by two thieves. One will stand by your front door, where most people store car keys, while the other stands by your car.

The thief uses a transmitter, or relay box, to extend the signal emitted by your key fob and trick the car into opening. Police say cars can be stolen in under two minutes using this system.

Which car models are vulnerable to relay theft? 

Any car model with a keyless entry system could be vulnerable.

Research by Thatcham in 2019 rated cars like the Ford Mondeo, Porsche Macan and Hyundai Nexus as having ‘poor’ security for relay theft [1]. But since then, car manufacturers have become more proactive about tackling the issue.

Ford, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi developed motion sensors in their keyless fobs to stop sending out a code when it hasn’t moved in a while. 

Jaguar and Land Rover fitted ultra-wideband (UWB) radio technology in some of their newer models, which communicate over a range of frequency channels so the code can’t be traced.

Our claims team have seen a general decrease in relay theft-related motor claims thanks to preventative technology like this – but it still happens.

How to prevent relay theft

  • Keep your keys away from your door – although as relay theft technology progresses, thieves can pick up signals from even further away
  • Keep your keys in a metal box or Faraday pouch - Faraday pouches are lined with layers of metallic material which can stop a signal being emitted, and you can get them as cheap as £10 online
  • Turn off your key fob overnight – only some key fobs can do this, so check your car manual if you’re unsure about how to do this
  • Use a steering wheel lock – or if you can, park in a garage overnight to be safe
  • Get your keys re-programmed – if you bought your car second-hand, you might not have been given all sets of car keys, so get them re-programmed either directly through the car manufacturer or with an auto locksmith
  • Fit outdoor motion detector lighting and CCTV – either you’ll deter the criminals straight away, or otherwise be able to hand that information straight to the police in the case of a theft
  • Invest in a ‘ghost immobiliser’ – a ghost immobiliser is a system you can install in your car that can prevent key cloning, signal jamming and device spoofing (all methods of relay theft); this is a more expensive option, but could be worth it to protect your car

Does car insurance cover keyless car theft?

All of our car insurance policies will cover you for relay theft apart from third party only.

If your car gets stolen, call the police immediately and then us. You’ll need to provide us with a Crime Reference Number within 24 hours.

Check your policy book for full details.



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