High-tech car theft fears

Protecting your keys still the best way to keep vehicle secure.

I could see from the beginning it was one of those conversations that had the potential to end badly.

Him:  My neighbour’s car was stolen by a guy using some fancy electronic gear.

Me: Really? How did you find out that’s how it was stolen? 

Him: The police said it’s a real problem.   

Me: So, the police found the electronic gear when they arrested him?

Him: I don’t know, but they said cars with keyless start are a real problem.

Me: Interesting. Late model cars are very secure, even those with keyless start. 

Him: There’s plenty on the internet about it. 

Me: Yes, I know, it’s mainly from Europe. And it’s mostly about organised criminals who can afford to spend some serious money on their tools.  It just isn’t something we see much of here.

Him (becoming agitated): I  don’t care, I just want to know how to protect my car.

While high-tech methods used to steal cars make for sensational media stories, a real problem is that some of these articles mention practices used in other countries and their authors probably don’t even understand that they aren’t used here.

It’s understandable then that the public gets the wrong end of the story. 



Yes, there is gear out there that will circumvent some security systems, but fortunately it’s typically well beyond the financial capacity and skill level of the average opportunistic Australian car thief.   

The fact is that unless you’re dealing with a serious professional thief, the most common mode of car theft in Australia is still by accessing keys, with the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council estimating that seven out of 10 Australian cars are stolen with their own keys.

Last year in Queensland there were about 10,000 short-term thefts compared with about 1800 profit-motivated, or what could be considered professional thefts, so it’s clear which group you’re more likely to encounter.  

So, the simple answer to my friend’s question is that if you want to protect your car, the first and most important thing to do is protect your keys. And if you’re really concerned about the security of keyless start cars, store the keys in a sealed metal box to block the signals the car uses to communicate with the key.