Car theft has come a long way since the days of hotwiring and joyriding. Nowadays, sophisticated criminals are using high-tech gadgets and gizmos to steal modern cars with ease. It's like something out of a James Bond movie, except instead of a suave spy stealing a flashy sports car, it's some guy in a hoodie with a laptop.
Can in-car technology make theft easy?
It's no secret that modern cars are packed with technology. From keyless entry to push-button ignition, these features are designed to make our lives easier. Unfortunately, though, they've also made it easier for criminals to steal cars. In fact, some of the most sophisticated car thieves are using technology that is so advanced, it's hard to believe it's real!
The 'Relay' Method
One of the most popular methods used by car thieves is something called a relay attack. This involves using a pair of radio transmitters to communicate with a key fob inside a house. The first transmitter is placed outside the house, near the front door or a window. The second transmitter is placed near the car. When the owner of the car presses the button on their key fob to unlock the car, the signal is picked up by the transmitter outside the house. The transmitter then relays the signal to the second transmitter, which is near the car. The car thinks that the key fob is nearby, so it unlocks itself.
It's a clever trick, but it's also incredibly easy to do. All a thief needs is a cheap radio transmitter and a laptop. They don't even need to physically steal the key fob - they just need to be within range of it. And because the signal can pass through walls and windows, the owner of the car might not even know that their key fob has been compromised.
Cloning your car key
Another popular method used by car thieves is something called a "black box" attack. This involves using a device that plugs into the car's onboard diagnostic (OBD) port. The OBD port is usually located under the dashboard and is used by mechanics to diagnose problems with the car. Here is the problem though: it can also be used by car thieves to program a new key fob for the car. Once the thief has programmed a new key fob, they can simply unlock the car and drive away.
Again, it's a simple trick, but it's also incredibly effective. The device used for a black box attack can be bought online for as little as £100, and it only takes a few minutes to use. And because the thief doesn't need to physically steal the key fob, the owner of the car might not even know that anything is wrong until it's too late.
Other simple techniques
It's not just relay attacks and black box attacks that car thieves are using these days. There are all sorts of other hi-tech gadgets and gizmos that they can use to steal cars. For example, there are devices that can jam the signal between a key fob and a car, preventing the car from locking itself. There are also devices that can bypass the security systems on newer cars, allowing the thief to start the engine and drive away.
It's a scary thought, but the truth is that car theft is becoming increasingly sophisticated. And whilst car manufacturers are doing their best to stay ahead of the game by introducing new security features, it's clear that criminals are always going to find new ways to steal cars.
How to beat hi-tec car thieves
So what can you do to protect your car? Well, the first thing you should do is make sure that you don't leave your key fob near a window or a door. Thieves can't use a relay attack if they can't pick up the signal from your key fob. You should also consider investing in a big steering wheel lock. These won't stop a determined thief, but they will make it more difficult for them to drive your car away - sometimes the old methods still work best!