RAC Cars News


Cars With Keyless Ignition Subject To Theft

By raccars Published

Image Source

After years of decreasing levels of car crime, it seems modern technology systems are actually making newer cars more vulnerable to theft. In particular, keyless ignition systems, as often found on higher end vehicles, including Audis, BMWs and Range Rovers, have sparked a new wave of car crime.

Keyless ignition systems usually work via a coded plastic fob with a chip inside. The fob is inserted into a slot in the car and the driver presses a button to start the engine, or sometimes works by remote control, so that the fob's proximity to the engine releases the locking system. The system is designed to be more secure and convenient than traditional keys, but police are warning that the reverse is true. While the situation is worst in smart postcodes, such as London's Kensington and Chelsea, the problem is spreading across the country, leading insurance providers and motoring organisations to question the use of electronic car protection systems.

Car theft reached epidemic proportions in the 1980s and early 1990s as cars were simply so easy to break into. The process became known as 'twocking' - 'taking without owner consent.' As a result, car manufacturers came up with far more sophisticated and secure protection systems for their vehicles, both manually and electronically. Ignition keys came with chips in the fobs and onboard computers became involved in car security. However, it seems this has led to a whole new set of problems, as criminals worked out how to exploit the technology - the same computer that can recognise a coded key fob can also reprogramme a blank fob.

Thieves have access to technology of their own that allows them to enter and start a car within seconds, by plugging into a car's diagnostic port and programming a blank key fob with a security code to start the vehicle. These devices, designed for legitimate use by locksmiths and garages, are easily available on the internet.

Currently keyless entry hacking is estimated to account for about half of all car theft, according to the Metropolitan Police. While manufacturers are working on new systems to combat keyless ignition hacking, in the meantime car owners are being advised by motoring organisations to invest in alternative methods of protection. Basic steering locks and other manual systems are undergoing a rise in popularity as a visual deterrent to thieves, as they increase the amount of time it takes to accomplish the theft.

Looking to Buy?
Search for cars