Gone in 60 seconds!

Did you know it can now take criminals under 60 seconds to steal a keyless car? This is why here at Howden, we’re giving away 10,000 key signal blockers to help reduce the number of keyless cars being stolen.

A whopping 130,521 vehicles were stolen in England and Wales in 2022/2023, and it was only two years prior the number of cars stolen was 89,107. Some say the large increase is due to the ease of stealing keyless cars in such short periods of time, some less than 60 seconds!

Is your car on the hit list?  

A Ford Fiesta was stolen every 88 minutes last year, making them the most stolen car of 2023, at 5,976. Some people would be surprised with this, yet this is due to the sheer number of Fiestas in the UK, however this is actually 0.1% down from 2022. Here’s how many of the most popular ‘stolen cars’ were separate from their owners last year.

1. Ford Fiesta – 5,976 stolen (DOWN 0.1% compared to 2022)

2. Ford Focus – 2,120 stolen (DOWN 3.0% compared to 2022)

3. VW Golf – 2,038 stolen (UP 0.1% compared to 2022)

4. Mercedes-Benz C-Class – 1,786 stolen (UP 29.6% compared to 2022)

5. Range Rover Sport – 1,631 stolen (DOWN 28.6% compared to 2022) 

6. Range Rover Evoque – 1,489 stolen (DOWN 2.8% compared to 2022) 

7. BMW 3 Series – 1,466 stolen (DOWN 0.8% compared to 2022)

8. Vauxhall Corsa – 1,110 stolen (DOWN 13.3% compared to 2022)

9. Vauxhall Astra – 1,086 stolen (DOWN 12.4% compared to 2022)

10. Land Rover Discovery Sport – 954 stolen (UP 15.2% compared to 2022)

How are thieves stealing cars?

Thieves are now using a variety of modern techniques to steal cars including keyless theft, which is where thieves capture signals from a key fob and then use that signal to unlock and then start the engine of the vehicle. Our ‘block the break in’ campaign is raising awareness of how common this method has become, and how it can be carried out brazenly in full daylight:

The most common methods include:

  • Relay attack – this is the term used to describe keyless entry theft, using specialist equipment to ‘relay’ a signal without physical access to a key. Once the car is unlocked, it can be started and driven away.
  • Turbo decoder – used to target cars with manual door locks, using the ‘turbo decoder’ locksmith tool as a modern-day skeleton key.
  • OBD key-cloning – it is estimated that up to 50% of car thefts in London involve key-cloning! OBD kits explode vulnerabilities in the onboard diagnostic to clone keys, and allow a thief to steal the vehicle.
  • Window smashing – whether it’s your home window that is smashed to gain access to your car keys, or your car’s windows smashed to access your car directly, this more destructive method of car theft is alive and well.

There are many more techniques thieves use to steal cars nowadays. However if you have a keyless entry car we strongly recommend using a faraday pouch, also known as an RFID pouch or ‘signal blocker’ pouch and keeping your keys in them at all times. Not sure if your car is ‘keyless’? Read this.

Faraday pouches protect your keys from unauthorised signal cloning. Coupling this with keeping your keys in the middle of your property, away from doors and windows will give you the best chance of avoiding relay attacks.

If your car isn’t keyless, there are other methods you can put in place to help prevent your car from being nicked. Including lockable security bollards so that, no matter what technique thieves try to use, the bollard simply stops the car from being able to move (as long as your security bollard is locked and up in place).

What is the police doing about car theft?

The police have been issuing warnings since the pandemic about the growth of theft in keyless cars, and warnings to stay vigilant.

While vehicle manufacturers go back to the drawing board to offer consumers greater security, police chiefs and the government are considering law changes to crack down on keyless vehicle theft. This includes ways to stop the sales of keyless repeaters and signal jammers, common tools of the trade for the car thief, or making it a criminal offence to own one.

Superintendent Matthew Moscrop, of the National Police Chief’s Council team said: “Disposal routes for stolen vehicles are also a key focus and we work closely with the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NAVCIS) to target ports which we know are a key route for moving stolen vehicles, as well as with police forces and colleagues in the NPCC metal theft portfolio to tackle so-called ‘chop shops’.

“Intelligence suggests a large proportion of vehicle theft can be attributed to organised crime groups and there have been a number of successful operations around the country which have led to the discovery of not only stolen vehicles but also ammunition and drugs.”

Unfortunately, the overall recovery rate for stolen cars stood at around 50% in 2023. But this figure fluctuates greatly over the years, with 2006 seeing 80% of stolen vehicles recovered, and 2021 seeing just 28% recovered! It’s estimated that 93% of thefts now conducted without the use of the owner’s keys, as opposed to 80% in 2017.

As a result of this increasing crime, from 8th April, we are giving away over 10,000 signal blocker key pouches to stop the rise of keyless theft. All you need to do is pop down to your local branch to pick one up.

Sources: Click4gap, Moneysupermarket, Thisismoney, Car Dealer Magazine, Autocar, Honest John, National Police Chief’s Council.