The past year has seen a 2% rise in vehicle offences, with 8% more cars stolen, according to latest Government figures.
The Office for National Statistics said in the year to March, the public fell victim to 814,000 instances of “criminal damage to cars”.
On stolen vehicles, it said there were also 114,656 offences related to “theft or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle”.
And one insurer puts this down to the rise in criminals targetting keyless cars.
LV= General Insurance said its claims data suggests a correlation between thefts and the rise in the smart devices.
It told the Mirror this trend is particularly present in Birmingham, where findings show a 3% increase in the past four years.
And it’s not alone either.
Analysis of 2018 theft activity by Tracker, a car security company, also suggests “keyless” car thefts are on the rise.
These occur where the car owner has locked a “keyless” car (one that can be unlocked when it senses the key fob is nearby, and which will then start on a button).
Tracker said that 88% of stolen vehicles that were fitted with one of its devices last year, were taken without using the owner’s keys. That represents another rise from the 80% stolen by this method in 2017, up from 66% in 2016, partly mirroring the increasing application of this technology, especially in high-end models.
“While it may be presumed that a new car, with the latest automotive technology, would mean it’s less likely to be the victim of theft, keyless cars can leave themselves vulnerable to technology savvy criminals,” explained at LV.
“Criminals use widely available signal relay devices to ‘trick’ the car into thinking the correct key is present by amplifying its signal and as soon as the thieves get access, all it takes is a touch of a button to start the engine and drive away.”
On Board Diagnostic (OBD) port theft uses technology plugged into an OBD port to disarm the alarm and immobiliser – allowing the car to be started by the push button start (keyless start).
Heather Smith at LV= GI Direct , said: “If you have a keyless car, w e’d definitely recommend the use of Faraday bags and other traditional types of car security for prevention.
“Some thieves will be willing to go to extreme lengths to get access to a vehicle, and as the summer holidays are a prime time for thieves, it’s important to protect yourself as much as possible.”
But while the simplicity of accessing a car can seem alarming, here are some of LV’s tips to help prevent this from happening.
Protect your vehicle
- Invest in a Faraday bag: A Faraday bag is a simple but highly effective way of stopping thieves amplifying your key’s signal.
This handy pouch is lined with a conductive fabric mesh, which stops your car key fob’s digital signals hitting the outside world once placed inside.
These are widely available online for under £10 and experts say they’re a “must-have” in the defence against relay theft.
Keep your key fob stored away: It may seem like an obvious one but keeping your key fob (and the signal thieves want to amplify) away from doors and windows will make the process much tougher for them.
Find a suitable spot , perhaps a kitchen drawer or the like, to store your fob away, including any spare keys.
Traditional car security is still a safe bet: While perhaps seen as a bit ‘old hat’ in today’s technology driven world, a steering wheel lock is still a highly effective last line of defence.
Choosing a brightly coloured, good quality lock should be enough to make thieves think twice. This is definitely something to consider if you are going on holiday for an extended period of time. You can buy one for around £25 on Amazon .
Fit a tracking device: If your preventative methods haven’t been enough to stop thieves getting away with your car, the next best thing is to find out where they’ve taken it. Trackers can help you locate the vehicle quickly and easily if the worst should happen.
Get the right car insurance: Having the right car insurance is perhaps the most important security measure of them all – especially in light of worrying car theft figures. See our guide on how to buy car insurance, here .