Prevent Keyless Car Theft (8 Quick Tips) & What Relay Theft is (2023)

Prevent Keyless Car Theft (8 Quick Tips) & What Relay Theft is (1)

Find out what Keyless car theft is & how to prevent your keyless entry car being stolen. Learn if your car is keyless entry & what car models are at risk as keyless car theft (relay theft) is a crime on the rise.

Skip to our Keyless car theft prevention tips click here.

What is Keyless Car Theft?

Keyless car theft (aka Relay Theft/Relay Crime) is where the signal from a key for a so-called “Keyless entry” car is captured by somebody standing outside the victim’s house using a device.

Keyless Car Theft – How It Works

Step 1 – The device transmits the signal to somebody else standing by the victim’s car.

Step 2– This then fools the car into thinking the key is near it, and so it allows the doors to be opened and ignition to be started.

“Keyless car theft can take only 20-30 seconds”

How far do thieves need to be away from my car keys?

Keyless Car Theft happens when thieves are only within a few metres from your car keys to capture the signal. We will tell you how you can stop thieves capturing your car key signal shortly.

Prevent Keyless Car Theft (8 Quick Tips) & What Relay Theft is (2)

Cars with keyless entry are at risk to relay theft

How Long Does Keyless Car Theft Take to Happen?

Keyless car theft can take only 20-30 seconds.

What device is used in Keyless Car Theft?

Relay crime is when a certain type of specialist electronic equipment captures the signal from the Key and transmits it to a receiver that somebody standing next to the car has.

Is My Car Keyless Entry?

If you have to push a button on your car keys to enter your car, you are not at risk of being “hacked”.

Only cars with a keyless entry system can be stolen using so called “relay” equipment.

(Video) Keyless entry car theft NO MORE how to totally protect your car from keyless theft

Keyless entry cars allow the driver to unlock and start the car with the key fob still in their pocket. Once in the car, the driver can press a button to start the engine.

Prevent Keyless Car Theft ( Quick Tips )

To protect your keyless entry from being a victim of relay theft, here some are some quick tips:

1. Use a Signal blocking pouch – Keep your car keys safe

Car key burglaries are on increase, why not keep your car keys in a safe!

If you have a ‘keyless entry’ car then make sure your keys are kept well away from doors and windows.

Keep your car key in a screened box/tin/bag so that the signal can’t be ‘grabbed’ from the outside and used to open your car – and don’t forget to do the same with any spare set!

Why Use a Signal Blocking Pouch (Faraday Bag)

Signal Blocking pouchescan stop access to your vehicle by blocking your car key fob from transmitting its code to the vehicle, as the pouches are lined with layers of metallic material.

The pouch which has a metalic lining Image, which prevents signals from the remote key fob being intercepted by unwanted individuals.
John Mutch Locksmith

Fact: Signal Blocking pouches are also known as Faraday Bags or Pouches

Putting your keys in a signal blocking pouch will stop any thieves from being able to amplify the signal used in relay theft.

Prevent Keyless Car Theft (8 Quick Tips) & What Relay Theft is (3)

A Signal blocking pouching can protect your keys | Image provided by Solon Security

How much do signal blocking pouches cost?

These pouches are cheap to purchase as well, from as low as £5, they can also be used to block WI-FI and Bluetooth signals on Mobile Phones.

2. Turn off Keyless Fob’s Wireless Signal

Do you have a keyless fob? Wireless signals on some keyless fobs can be switched off.

To turn off you should look in your cars manual to see if you can do this.

(Video) 5 top tips to STOP keyless car theft (protect your Range Rover)

If you can’t find anything in your manual about turning off your fob you should contact the vehicle’s manufacturer.

3. Use a Steering Wheel Lock or Car Alarm

Yes, we know, you threw out the wheel lock back in the 90’s.

Most modern car thieves are equipped with laptops rather than hand tools, so mechanical devices – such as steering wheel locks – can be a real deterrent.

Prevent Keyless Car Theft (8 Quick Tips) & What Relay Theft is (4)

A Steering Wheel Lock can prevent keyless car theft

When purchasing a security device look out for 3rd party approval such as Sold Secure, whereby the product is tested against tools used by criminals such as Crowbars and Angle Grinders.

An alarm can reduce your car insurance

If you haven’t got a factory-fitted alarm you may be able to reduce the cost of your car insurance by fitting a car alarm.

Check with your insurer that the alarm is approved, as the quality can differ with car alarms.

And the single most cost-effective way to reduce your insurance premium is to fit an immobiliser, just make sure it’s professionally fitted.

4. Re-programme your keys

If you buy a second-hand vehicle, there is a risk that you may not be given all of the sets of car keys.

Prevent Keyless Car Theft (8 Quick Tips) & What Relay Theft is (5)

Reprogramming your car keys can stop thieves using stolen keys

If you’re unsure, get car keys reprogrammed so previous owners can’t access the vehicle.

(Video) Keyless Car Theft: 3 EFFECTIVE Methods of Car Anti Theft

Warning: Although be warned programming of some vehicles keys can be quite expensive, especially if you go direct to the manufacturers, make you hire an auto locksmithwho is usually cheaper

5. Park defensively…

Parking your car in a garage overnight is ideal but make sure you ask an MLA locksmith to undertake a security check.

If you’re parking on your driveway, park defensively i.e. as close to your property as you can so that access is made difficult.

Extra Security to Consider

Consider fitting outdoor motion detector lighting and CCTV, and if you park on the street ensure it’s inanarea that is well lit.

6. Keep your vehicle tidy

We’ve all heard it, but how many still don’t follow the advice.

Make sure to keep the inside of your vehicle clear of clutter, try and hide any electrical items such as Sat Navs & Mobile phones.

Try to keep your glove box empty and why not leave your glove box open to show you’ve got nothing to hide.

Don’t forget to hide any signs of high-cost equipment as well, suchas the marks that Sat-Nav suction cups leave on your windscreen!

7. Get your windows etched

Etching the last seven digits of your Vehicle Identity Number (or registration) onto the windows, headlights and mirrors means anybody who tries to alter your vehicle’s identity will have a tough job.

8. If you lose your keys

Prevent Keyless Car Theft (8 Quick Tips) & What Relay Theft is (6)

Should you havelost your car keys then we recommend contacting a local MLA auto locksmith, who are experts with vehicle locks and keys.

They will make sure that only the keys you have cannot be used by the thief, removing all others your vehicles database, this will stop any stolen keys being used.

READ MORE: 5 ways to replace lost car keys

Car Models at threat to Keyless Car Theft

Any car with keyless entry is at a threat to relay crime.

Popular models found to such as a Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf, Nissan Qashqai and Ford Focus are all at risk.

(Video) Stolen in under 60 sec. Keyless Car Theft Explained - Key Fob Relay Attack

This was reported by the BBC in their Hundreds of popular cars ‘at risk of keyless theftarticle which included research analysed data on keyless – or “relay” attacks on cars.

A study was carried out by General German Automobile Club (ADAC), who tested 237 keyless cars and found 230 vehicles could all be unlocked and started using Relay Crime.

Keyless Entry Cars Tested Against Keyless Car Theft by Thatcham

In 2019 Thatcham launched a security rating for keyless entry car models and how they performed against relay theft, below are the results.

PASSED Vehicle Models of Keyless Car Theft Test

The following keyless entry car models PASSED Thatchams relay attack test and were given a superior security rating:

Keyless Entry Vehicle ModelPass Or Fail
Security Rating
Audi e-tron PassSuperior
BMW 1 Series / 7 Series / 8 SeriesPassSuperior
BMW X6 / X7PassSuperior
Ford PumaPassSuperior
Jaguar XEPassSuperior
Land Rover EvoquePassSuperior
Mercedes B-ClassPassSuperior
Porsche 911PassSuperior
Porsche MacanPassSuperior
Volkswagen PassatPassSuperior

FAILED Vehicle Models of Keyless Car Theft Test

The below keyless entry car models FAILED Thatchams relay attack test and were given a poor security rating:

Keyless Entry Vehicle ModelPass Or Fail
Security Rating
DS3 CrossbackFailPoor
Ford MondeoFailPoor
Kia ProCeedFailPoor
Lexus UXFailPoor
Hyundai NexoFailPoor
Mazda 3FailPoor
Toyota CorollaFailPoor
Toyota RAV-4FailPoor
Volvo V60FailPoor

To view Thatchams 2020 security rating results click here.

Keyless Car Theft – Frequently Asked Questions

Will My Car Insurance Cover Keyless Car theft?

Withcar theft payouts at a record high in 2019rumour has it that relay crime is a cause behind this rise.

Most Car insurance policies will cover theft if your car is stolen because of keyless theft, but they may require proof that you still have all available keys (we recommend checking with your insurer).

Are Car Manufacturers doing anything to Prevent Keyless Car Theft?

Yes, some car manufacturers are introducing preventative measures to help prevent keyless cars from being stolen.

Kia are providing their own faraday bag that helps block the car signal.

Ford Focus, Fiesta, BMW, Audi & Mercedes have introduced Motion Sensor Key Fobs. A Motion sensor car fob will go into sleep mode after being inactive for 40 seconds, which prevents any criminals from getting the cars signal.

Are Vans also at threat to Keyless Theft?

Yes, in 2018 there was a increase in keyless van thefts. The most popular van model stolen were Ford Transits.

What is the future of Relay theft?

Last year our Managing Director Steffan George met with West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson to meet with car manufacturers to call for more action to tackle vehicle thefts.


We recommend taking the action as covered on this page to prevent your car from being a victim of relay theft.

Recommended Reading

  • Motorcycle Security Guide – If you own a motorcycle read our expert tips


What is a relay car theft? ›

Keyless theft, also known as 'relay theft', occurs when device is used to fool the car into thinking the car's own remote key fob is close by; this unlocks the car and allows the ignition to be started.

How does anti theft relay work? ›

One thief will stand close to your house with a device that boosts the signal from your car keys. This signal is then relayed to the second thief who is next to your car and has a second device that can use the signal to unlock your vehicle.

Does putting car keys in a tin block the signal? ›

This will minimise the chances a crook will be able to find and amplify the key's signal and is general good practice, as it'll prevent thieves from easily breaking in and swiping them. Barrs also says owners can keep their car keys in a metal tin to block signals.

What device is used in relay car theft? ›

Relay car theft, or 'relay attack' is when criminals use the keyless entry system of a car against itself by tricking the car into thinking the wireless remote is next to it.

How far does relay theft work? ›

How does a relay attack work? A relay attack usually involves two people working together. One stands by the targeted vehicle, while the other stands near the house with a device that can pick up a signal from the key fob. What's more, some devices can pick up a signal from over 100 metres away.

Does aluminum foil block car key fob signal? ›

Because metal can block your key fob's signal, you can wrap it in aluminum foil. While that's the easiest solution, aluminum foil can leak the signal if you don't wrap it tightly.

Can a keyless car be started without the key? ›

Generally speaking, there's no limit to the distance a vehicle with keyless entry and start can go without the keyfob being in the car. The vehicle will often just beep without the key present.

What triggers the anti-theft system in car? ›

Vehicle theft: This alert occurs when tampering is detected with the vehicle's key cylinder. This can be triggered by an invalid key, screwdriver, foreign key fob or no key detected when trying to start the vehicle.

Can a relay prevent a car from starting? ›

Car not starting: Another symptom of a faulty ignition relay is a no power condition. If the relay fails it will cut off power to fuel pump and ignition system, which will result in a no power, and therefore no start condition.

Why do you wrap your keys in aluminum foil? ›

Prevent car theft by wrapping your car key fob in foil. Yes, that's right — a piece of tinfoil can stop your car from getting stolen. Key fobs might be convenient, but there's a security risk associated with them. Thieves can use devices that will amplify fob signals to cars or copy the code to get into a vehicle.

What is the most stolen car in 2022? ›

The Top 10 Most Stolen Cars as of 2022
  • Honda Civic.
  • Honda Accord.
  • Toyota Camry.
  • GMC Pickup.
  • Nissan Altima.
  • Honda CR-V.
  • Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee.
  • Toyota Corolla.
7 Nov 2022

How do thieves start a car without a key? ›

Computer hackers have developed devices that plug into the port, boot up a vehicle's software and then program a blank key fob. In keyless cars this can be used to start the engine as well as unlock the doors.

How do you relay theft? ›

The thieves pull up outside a house and hold a relay box against the brick walls of the house to receive a signal from the key inside. The relay box can scan through the walls to pick up the signal from the car key. This is then transferred to a second box which is being held by the other thief standing by the car.

What cars use relays? ›

Relays are used throughout the vehicle's electrical systems, allowing low-current switches to control higher-current components. Think of all the small-gauge wiring circuits found throughout a modern vehicle, and then consider the high-current loads that these circuits control.

Which keyless cars are most stolen? ›

Car Models at threat to Keyless Car Theft

Any car with keyless entry is at a threat to relay crime. Popular models found to such as a Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf, Nissan Qashqai and Ford Focus are all at risk.

How far can a push to start car go without the key? ›

If yo are referring to a “keyless ignition” car… Generally you can keep driving until you turn off the ignition. Then you need the fob again to restart the car. Some of the keyless ignition cars will start with the key more than 50 ft from the car…

Which cars are hardest to steal? ›

10 cars that are hardest to steal
  • BMW 3 Series Four-Door. A study by the Highway Loss Data Institute found that the BMW 3 Series was the least-stolen car in the United States. ...
  • Tesla Model S. ...
  • Hyundai Tucson. ...
  • Audi A4. ...
  • Land Rover Discovery. ...
  • Mercedes Benz GL 550 by TAC.
19 Jan 2022

Why should you wrap your doorknob in aluminum foil when you're alone? ›

All it says is aluminum foil can be used as an alternative to tape to cover doorknobs and hardware while painting. It has nothing to do with safety and the inclusion of the phrase "when you're home alone" was only used as clickbait to make the ad seem more important. Copyright 2022 Scripps Media, Inc.

Does a microwave block car key signal? ›

You may have seen some of the more “out there” suggestions for storage, such as the fridge or microwave. While these do block the signal between your keys and car, they're not the perfect solution. After all, you may end up causing damage to your keys if you forget that you put them in the microwave.

What happens if you walk away from keyless car? ›

No the receiver built into your keyless module only activates ignition switch, so if you left engine running, it would remain running until you turn it off. My Ford Edge shuts itself off if I walk away with the key.

Can you get keyless entry without power locks? ›

Most cars nowadays have built-in power locks. But, for those who are using vehicles that still have manual door locks, the question “can you get keyless entry system without power locks?” remains. Yes, you can get a keyless entry system without built-in power locks in your car.

How do criminals steal keyless cars? ›

But how do they get that signal? If the keys lack a signal-blocker shield (called an RFID blocker), thieves can use a transponder device, which you can pick up online on the cheap. That electronic device can capture the keyless entry code as it's sent from the fob to the car.

Is push-button start easier to steal? ›

Keyless entry systems are a great innovation. Yet, they're not perfect. The technology in keyless entry systems actually makes it easier than ever to steal a car. Back in the old days, you needed to either obtain a key or be able to access a vehicle and hotwire it if you wanted to steal a car.

Can a keyless car be locked with key inside? ›

Yes, it is possible to lock a car with the key fob inside. You can do this purposefully if you need the fob to remain in the car to protect it from loss or damage. It is also possible to get your key fob locked in the car by accident. Accidental lockouts can be solved in several ways.

What does a relay do in a car? ›

An Automotive Relay is a digital or electromechanical managed switch and it is designed for DC voltages in passenger consolation and retainment systems. It also controls power levels in harsh environments.

What does relay mean in cars? ›

What is a car relay? In the most simple terms an automotive relay is an electronically operated switch. The type most commonly used in the automotive industry is an electro-mechanically operated switch. They are found in all types of vehicles - cars, trucks, vans, trailers and boats.

What is relay tracking? ›

Relay is a screen-free, push-to-talk phone that works with 4G LTE and WiFi. It combines instant, nationwide communication with GPS tracking, geofencing, SOS alerts with 911 escalation. Go far. Stay close.

Which relay is used for protection against? ›

Generally, Buchholz relay is used for protecting transformer against incipient or internal faults.

What is a relay hack? ›

A relay attack (also known as the two-thief attack) in computer security is a type of hacking technique related to man-in-the-middle and replay attacks. In a classic man-in-the-middle attack, an attacker intercepts and manipulates communications between two parties initiated by one of the parties.

What two types of relays are used in automotive? ›

Automotive Relay Types

How much does a relay for a car cost? ›

How Much Does a Relay Cost? An aftermarket relay usually costs around $50 to $250. Prices can vary depending on various factors, like its brand, quantity, product fit, and condition. Labor costs for this type of replacement usually range from $30 to $60.

Why would you use a relay? ›

Relays can reduce the need for high-amperage wiring and switches, which are expensive and take up space. Therefore, switching to relays in your electronic systems can reduce the size or weight of a casing, for instance, or allow manufacturers to fit more functionality into a space of the same size.

Why it is called relay? ›

It is known as relay centre because it performs relaying of motor and sensory signals to the cerebral cortex.

What kind of relay do I need? ›

Every relay will have two ratings: AC and DC. You should determine the AC watts and the DC watts, and never exceed these ratings. Example: A 5 Amp Relay is Rated at 24 Volts DC. If you are switching AC Devices, Make Sure the AC Watts of the Device you are Switching DOES NOT Exceed 1,250 when using a 5A Relay.

How long do relays last in a car? ›

Most relays are rated for about 50,000 cycles, so it is possible that the automatic shutdown relay will last you the life of your car. However, if it does fail, you won't be going anywhere until you have it replaced.

What are the 3 relays in track? ›

The three standard relays raced at the Olympics are the 4 × 100 m freestyle relay, 4 × 200 m freestyle relay and 4 × 100 m medley relay.

What are the three types of tracking? ›

Three Types of Tracking

These are: Satellite-based GPS Vehicle tracking. Cell-Based GPS vehicle tracking. Cellular-phone based GPS.

What are the 4 types of passes in the relay? ›

Relay Baton Pass: Upsweep, Downsweep, or Push Pass?
  • Up-sweep – The incoming runner passes the baton up into the outgoing runner's hand.
  • Down sweep – Receiving arm extended, but hand level is just above hip height. ...
  • Push Pass – the arm is extended parallel to the ground, and the hand is open with the thumb pointing down.


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