Recent Home Office statistics have shown that a car is stolen every five minutes in the UK.

Theft of parts is also on the rise, with steering wheels (for the airbags) up by over 130% and catalytic convertors (for the precious metals they contain) accounting for 20% of theft claims, according to QBE.

Keyless access is no longer the preserve of the luxury vehicle. Many vehicles are no longer reliant on keys for either access or ignition, with some vehicles needing no keys at all. The system is an evolution of the remote locking fobs that we've all become used to; your key transmits a signal to a receiver in your vehicle and this in turn unlocks the car, deactivates the alarm/immobiliser and serves as the ignition key. Some systems even work by how close you are to your vehicle.

These advances mean that thieves are increasing their efforts to bypass such systems, using transmitters to attempt to intercept the signal from the key and trick the system into wrongly identifying this as the correct key. This means the vehicle can be accessed and driven away without the damage typically associated with a break-in. As a result, there has been a 19% increase in keyless vehicle thefts in the last year.

Worrying statistics – can anything be done to prevent this?

Whilst the statistics are a concern, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk at relatively low cost.

  • Keep the key as far from your vehicle as possible and away from doors and windows.
  • Consider parking further away from your property or place of work to confuse a potential thief.
  • Use a Faraday pouch or boxes to store keys. These use a metal lining to block the signal that they transmit. A simple test of any device is to stand next to the car to see whether the signal is blocked. There are a wide variety of Faraday devices available, so it pays to do your homework.
  • Keep keys (including spares) in a discreet location in your home.
  • Think about security measures designed to physically prevent your vehicle from being removed, such as wheels clamps or security posts to your driveway.
  • Use a vehicle without keyless entry to block in any vehicle(s) which do.
  • Install a tracking system. This may be a mandatory requirement if your vehicle is expensive or at a higher risk of theft. Seek guidance from your broker when finding a suitable system that meets Thatcham approved status.
  • Consider a Ghost system. This uses existing vehicle functions in a certain sequence to enable the vehicle to start. This may include radio, heating and steering wheel mounted switches.
  • Some keyless systems can be disabled manually. Your owner's manual or guide via your infotainment system will tell you how this can be done.

Above all, take extra care when you leave your car unattended, whether at home, work or when you are travelling.

Lockton can provide you with more guidance so please talk to us if you need any help.