5 Ways to Prevent Keyless Car Theft

5 Ways to Prevent Keyless Car Theft

Updated on April 23 2024

You would think that modern keyless entry and alarm systems are enough to deter thieves from stealing your car, but alarming data tells a different story. Incidences of car theft are rising worldwide, and most reported cases have something to do with “relay theft” or hacking the keyless entry system. In a report by Tracker UK, keyless car thefts hit unprecedented heights in 2019, with more than 92-percent of stolen cars being taken without the keys.

What is keyless entry, and how does it work?

Keyless entry allows car owners to unlock the doors, enter the car, and start the engine without fiddling with a key. The system works by using a keyless fob to transmit short-range radio waves to a receiver in the vehicle. If the car recognizes the signal, it will unlock the doors automatically. It also allows the driver to start the car and drive off without doing anything else.

How does keyless car theft happen?

The next generation of modern car thieves uses a hacking tool or a “relay electronic device” to capture the signal from the key fob and relay it to the transmitter in the vehicle. The device fools the car into thinking the key fob is near the vehicle, unlocking the doors and enabling the starter mechanism.

The funny thing is the thief needs to only be within a few meters from your car keys to capture the key fob’s signal. If you have a habit of leaving the keys near a window or hanging them near your main door, the thief can stand within the vicinity of your gate to capture the signal and steal your car. The hacking and stealing process is more straightforward if you park your vehicle outdoors.

And yes, the entire process can only take 20 to 30 seconds, and your car is gone. Car thieves used to take 60 seconds to steal a car (remember the film Gone in 60 Seconds?), but technology has fast-tracked the process by half.

How will I know if my car has a keyless entry system?

You can heave a sigh of relief if you need to push a button on the key fob to enter the vehicle. But if you can unlock and start your car while the key fob is in your pocket, your vehicle has keyless entry.

Top 5 Ways to Prevent Keyless Car Theft

Keep the following tips in mind if your vehicle has keyless entry.

1. Keep the key fob away from the vehicle.

It’s not enough to keep the key fob in a safe place. It would help if you tried placing it as far away from your car as possible to deter hackers from capturing the signal and stealing your car. Keep the key fob and the spare key away from doors, windows, porches, or anywhere near the vehicle. Better yet, you can place the key fob in a signal-blocking pouch or Faraday bag, and you can order it from your favorite online store. Faraday pouches can block the key fob from transmitting its signal to the vehicle. It can even block Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals on your smartphone.

2. Park in a safe and well-lit area.

If you don’t have an enclosed garage, try parking your car in a safe and well-lit area whenever possible. When parking on your driveway, make sure the vehicle is parked as close to your property to deter thieves. Remember, the keys should be far away from the car, but the vehicle should be as close to your home as possible.

3. Keep the interior tidy.

The easiest way to deter thieves from breaking in or stealing your car (regardless if your car has a keyless entry or not) is not to give potential thieves the motivation to do it. With that in mind, keep the interior of your car neat and free of clutter. Avoid leaving valuables inside the vehicle like your wallet, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other gadgets. If you need to keep your hi-tech gadgets, leave them in the trunk and not sitting inside the rear seats.

4. Use a steering wheel lock.

The old-school way is one of your best preventive measures against keyless car theft. You can invest in a handy steering wheel lock as an added safety precaution against modern-age carjackers. Car thieves now use electronic gadgets (instead of hand tools like a slim Jim) to steal a car, so installing a mechanical device could prove helpful to deter theft.

5. Reprogram the keys.

Having the keyfob reprogrammed could prove helpful if you recently bought a used car with keyless entry. When buying a used car, make sure to ask for all the sets of keys that come with the vehicle. If you only have one key fob, it’s better to have it reprogrammed at the dealership, although it may cost some money to do so.


Hi-tech convenience has drawbacks, too. While keyless entry is a God-send if you just came from the market carrying a whole load of grocery bags, neglect can expose your sweet ride to vehicle theft. Remember always to lock the doors and to keep the key fob as far away from your car. As an added reminder, make sure your vehicle insurance is up to date to avoid the potential headaches of dealing with car theft.