Keyless car thefts are rising dramatically due to criminals deploying methods that simply amplify the signal from fobs left in homes to unlock the nearby vehicle.
The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures reveal that there were 130,389 vehicles thefts registered in 2022, up 25 per cent on the previous year.
AA Insurance Services have raised the alarm on this increase, informing the Times that "usually two thieves will work together. One holds a transmitter and stands next to the car while the other stands close to the property holding an amplifier.
They said: “The amplifier can boost the signal from the key and send it to the transmitter. The transmitter essentially becomes a ghost key and tricks the car into thinking the real key is nearby. This then opens the car and allows it to be driven away without causing any damage.”
Land Rovers were three times more likely to be stolen than a Mercedes-BenzPexels
Thieves are disguising the amplifier as hardware such as old Nokia phones, Bluetooth speakers or Nintendo Game Boys.
President of the AA, Edmund King, told the Telegraph in August last year that ever since his wife’s £50,000 Lexus was stolen, he hides his keyless car key fob in a secured pouch in the microwave.
If it were up to King, cars would be made with the option for old school car keys, as he lamented: “Are we that lazy that we cannot press a button on a key fob or turn a key if it protects us?”
Should you wish to foil criminals without resorting to canning the keyless fob or using the microwave, then experts have pointed to metal lined boxes or wrapping the fob in tin foil.
The Ford Fiesta was the UK’s most stolen model of car in 2022 at 5,079 vehicles stolen, up 53 per cent, while second place went to Land Rover Range Rover with 5,533, according to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) figures.
Demand has been partly spurred by Ford’s decision to cease production on the Ford Fiesta model from next month, in favour of a new electric vehicle.
In data obtained from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) by Confused.com, it was reported that 8,284 of the 896,948 licensed Land Rovers had been stolen, adding up to one in every hundred Land Rovers.
Ford Fiesta were 2022's most stolen car model
Thieves target keyless cars for they are often both easier to steal and tend to be more expensive vehicles.
Some victims of relay theft have reported being fobbed off by some insurance companies, with 10 drivers taking their cases to the Financial Ombudsman Service in 2022 to secure payout funds.
The West Midlands saw the most car thefts across the UK, with 251 out of every 100,000 cars taken, while Dyfed in Wales had the lowest rate of thefts, with just 22 per 100,000 vehicles were stolen.