Strange Tip to Stop Thieves From Stealing Your Keyless Car
Automotive cybercrime is rising in drastic waves. Most high-end vehicles rely on complex computer systems, and even the modest Prius has gone keyless. It’s not too surprising, then, that thieves have learned how to hack into some of these systems. While low-level thugs are simply breaking into vehicles and grabbing what they can, organized crime rings in London have become smitten with Land Rovers, disappearing with SUVs in under a minute.
Missing Land Rovers Have Become a Huge Problem in London
According to a report from The Guardian, Land Rovers are disappearing at a rapid pace. It’s gotten so bad that law enforcement agents aren’t the least bit surprised when a call about a Land Rover comes in. One owner of the luxury SUV said that he received a call in the early-morning hours from his tracking company, advising him that his vehicle was on the move. He looked outside to where it had been parked, and it was gone. The man lived in an upscale neighborhood, and the vehicle was under surveillance. Footage of the theft shows a man walking up to it, entering with ease, and vanishing with the vehicle in 55 seconds. Because of this, some insurance companies are refusing to cover them, or are creating special stipulations. Sometimes, drivers are required to park in a garage, or have mechanical barriers installed. Other times, they only insist on the SUVs having a steering wheel lock, in the hopes that thieves will be deterred.
The Wave of Thefts has Reached Canada and The United States, Too
A Toronto news station picked up on the increase of thefts. The reporter pointed out that vehicles are no longer broken into with an old-fashioned smash and grab. In most cases, the vehicles don’t show any signs of a break-in at all. That is, when the whole vehicle doesn’t go missing. A reporter for the New York Times was driven to the brink by petty thieves. He tended to leave his vehicle in front of his California home, and it was broken into three times. One morning while he was working from home, his dog altered him that something was amiss outside. He glanced out his window and saw two people approach his vehicle. One of them produced a black device from her backpack, and immediately entered his car. The pair got away, but the reporter became curious about the black device, and started calling around. The police told him that he’d probably forgotten to lock his door, and the vehicle manufacturer could not supply any advice. He stuck with it until he got his answer.
The Thieves Were Likely Using a Device that Costs as Little as $17
While some sophisticated thieves are using laptops loaded with software that cracks the key fob’s code, this clearly wasn’t the case, since the girl gained immediate access, and didn’t have a computer. BMWs have also been disappearing from city streets, with thieves reportedly using a handheld device to gain access. However, the reporter drove a Prius. The likely culprit was an amplifier, which retails for as little as $17, though stronger ones go for up to $100. These devices take advantage of the fact that a keyless car is always looking for its key. In order for it to start, it must be within a certain range. The inexpensive devices amplify the signal, so that the car can “hear” the key, even if it’s inside the house. Thieves then have immediate access to the vehicle, regardless of whether they just want to take the belongings inside, or drive off with it.
The Low-Tech Way to Stop them is to Put Your Key in the Freezer
Interestingly, the freezer is said to act like a Faraday Cage, totally blocking the signal. The keys can’t send a message out, and the car can’t get a message in. This means that anyone trying to use an amplifier will have no luck gaining access to the car.
While this solves the amplifier problem, it does nothing for more complex methods that don’t rely on hijacking the signal. So far, there haven’t been any other solutions to combat more sophisticated thieves. If you’re facing a high-tech thief, your best bet is to keep the vehicle in a garage, or if you have a less-expensive vehicle, park it tightly against the valuable one, to make it more difficult for someone else to leave with your keyless car.
Jason is also a 25-year Canadian rock star and on-air broadcast legend, otherwise known as The Greek SINsation. And host of Canada's #1-rated The Web Show.
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- Strange Tip to Stop Thieves From Stealing Your Keyless Car - October 24, 2015