6 Tips On How To Prevent Keyless Car Thefts
Keeping our car safe used to be as easy as pressing the Lock button - not anymore. With a recent spate of keyless car thefts in Malaysia, everyone's on high alert. After all, as cars become more modern and technologically advanced, it’s natural to be lulled into a sense of security about their… well, security.
How are they doing it?
Car thieves have discovered a way to steal keyless cars in just minutes — using a frequency-hacking device, this is called relay car theft. The device costs just RM150 (S$50) and can be easily found online or at electronics stores.
So how exactly does this device work?
It usually hacks into a car with its radio frequency identification (RFID) information, using two methods:
Method 1: The Fake Out
First, the device “attacks” the car’s locking system, tricking it into responding with a rolling code. The device then captures this code to access the car.
Method 2: The Eavesdrop
The device exploits the weaknesses of a keyless entry system by “eavesdropping” and copying the code from the driver’s key fob. This replicates the unlock function but requires the thieves to be within a certain proximity.
How bad is it?
Pretty terrible! While relay car theft is on the rise in Malaysia, it has been prevalent in other countries for a while. In the United Kingdom, experts estimate that 66% of stolen cars were taken after being “electronically compromised”*.
This trend hasn’t made its way to Singapore’s shores yet, but if you’re planning a road trip to Malaysia and drive a keyless car, you may be just as vulnerable.
What can I do?
Here are six measures you can take to add an extra layer of protection:
- Park Strategically
It may be counterintuitive to leave your car in the open in order to keep it safe, but that should be the case. When parking, pick well-lit spots with high visibility (bonus points if you can park it under a street lamp!).
If you’re at a café, try to park it as close as you can to keep your eyes on it. Can’t score a seat with a good view? Park it nearby anyway. The fact that anyone seated at the window could potentially spot suspicious activity already serves as a deterrent.
- Hide Your Possessions
When it comes to your belongings, the less visible they are, the better!
Maximise the use of your boot and glove compartment to keep items out of sight and reduce the appeal of car theft to a minimum. Don’t limit this to just valuables such as wallets and laptops. Even items such as jackets might pique the interest of a car thief, with the alluring possibility of more expensive items hidden underneath.
- Double (And Triple) Check!
You can never be too careful. Know the usual indicators of your car being locked — it could be a sound such as a click, or a flashing light. If you try to lock your car and you’re not getting these signs, don’t be too quick to dismiss it as a minor technical fault. Stay vigilant and check your surroundings for suspicious characters — you may be the target of a car thief trying to interfere with your key fob’s signal.
- Beef Up Your Security
Upgrade your car’s security measures by adding more. For example, you can add a steering wheel lock to hold it in place and discourage thieves by making it harder and more troublesome for them to drive off with it. Other options for extra security features include pedal and gearstick locks.
- Protect Your Key Fob
The key to guarding your car may simply be to guard the one thing that’s more important: your key fob. One possibility is to just turn it off, reducing the chances of a car thief tampering with its signal. Check with your dealer to find out how to do this.
If that’s not possible, you can consider a physical barrier instead: Faraday pouches are handy for blocking external signals and relay car thefts. Make sure you test out your Faraday pouch before relying on it though — if not, an empty tin can make for a good temporary stand-in, albeit a bulkier one.
- Track Your Car
If all else fails, it always help to know where your car is. Invest in a tracking device, or save that money and use the MSIG Connected Car mobile app. Available to customers who purchase UMax, the app gives real-time feedback on your driving and comes with a bunch of handy features too. For example, with the touch of a button, it informs you of your car’s location. With a top-up, UMax’s location services and coverage also extends to Malaysia. Find out more about UMax: https://www.msig.com.sg/personal-insurance/detail/motor/umax