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Keyless car theft - what you need to know

Did you know that if you have a keyless car, thieves may be able to steal your car without needing your keys? Car manufacturers have been investing in improving car security and as a result, car theft rates have fallen considerably. However, one area on the rise is keyless car theft. Keyless cars have been popular in the market for some time now for their ease of entry for owners. Some models use the key's proximity to simply open the doors and enable you to start the ignition. These cars are attractive to potential owners but they're also attractive to potential thieves. While it's not possible to completely remove the risk that your car will be targeted by robbers, we've compiled some tips for keeping your car safe.

What is keyless car theft?

Keyless car theft (or relay theft) is where the signal from a key is captured by someone standing outside the victim's house using a small device. After absorbing the signal, the key's signal is then transferred to someone standing by the car and, in response, the car is tricked into thinking the key is near it and allows the doors to open and the ignition to be started. The number of keyless car thefts has been on the rise in recent years due to the number of car manufacturers using this technology. This whole process can be done in as little as 25 seconds and in near silence.

How do I know if my car is keyless? Will it be targeted?

According to a report from Which? magazine, there are more than 200 models on the market offering keyless entry. Keyless cars allow the driver to unlock and start the car with the key fob still in their pocket. If you have to insert the key into the door lock or push a button on your car keys to enter your car - the car is not keyless. According to the Irish Times, models affected include all of the top 10 cars in Ireland:

  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Nissan Qashqai
  • Ford Focus and Fiesta
  • Volkswagen Golf and Tiguan
  • Skoda Octavia
  • Kia Sportage
  • Toyota Yaris and C-HR

Ok, so what can I do to reduce the risk of my car being stolen?

There are a few steps you can take to ensure the safety of your car, keyless or otherwise.

1. The Basics

First and perhaps most importantly - think carefully about the placement of your key whilst inside your home. Remember - this technology only works if the key is in close proximity to the device. You should ideally keep your car keys in a secure location within your home, as far away as possible from the outside of the building, windows and doors, and ideally shut inside a 'safe box' or drawer.

Carry your key in a signal-blocking pouch such as a Faraday pouch to avoid being targeted in car parks and public areas. But, be sure to check that your key is compatible with the pouch before purchasing.

2. Ensure your car is locked

You should ensure every time you lock your car that the car performs its' typical locking processes be it flashing the lights, folding the mirrors, chirping or simply audibly locking internally.

3. Switch off your key

Some keys can be switched off when not in use, though it's not obvious. This is usually through a combination of button presses but please ensure that you know how to re-enable your key. Check your user manual or contact your car dealer to see if the system can be turned off on command.

4. Thief deterrents

There are lots of ways you can deter thieves from targeting your vehicle. CCTV is a popular choice for home and car safety. Though CCTV cameras aren't guaranteed to prevent your car from being stolen, they can be effective in deterring potential robbers from attempting to enter your home or car and if they don't ward off the thieves, they're an aid for Gardaí to find your car. Another excellent way to find your car if it's ever stolen is using a tracking device. This gives you a much better chance of recovering your car. There are also physical barriers you can use such as a steering wheel lock, a driveway parking post or even a wheel clamp. Even if the thieves are able to access and start your car, these should prevent them from driving away.

What should I do if my car has been stolen?

If you're unlucky enough to have been targeted by keyless car theft, you should follow these steps:

  • Contact your local garda station with details of where the car was stolen, the registration, make, model, colour etc. - they're the people best equipped to find your car or at least who did it. 
  • Call us at on our 24/7 Claims Assist Team line on (01) 290 1999, let us know that your car has been stolen and we'll take care of things from there.

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