Cell phones to fight against keyless car theft

Experts from Thatcham Research, the car industry’s research centre, said the mobile phone keys used a different wireless technology which meant they could not be intercepted.

“Cellphone keys are not susceptible to the same interception techniques used on key fobs,” Thatcham technical director Richard Billyeald said.

“They use different signal technologies. The same relay attack would not be applied on a phone as on a car key fob, because it is completely different. »

Manufacturers associate it with Ultrawide Band (UWB) technology, which can precisely detect where the cell phone key is in relation to the car at any given time and only opens when it is close, thus thwarting any attempt to intercept and redirect the signal.

Luxury brands like Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes and Porsche are increasingly affected by keyless theft, which now accounts for 48% of all vehicle ‘theft’ claims, according to LV= General Insurance.

Tracker, the UK’s largest vehicle recovery company, reported that more than nine out of 10 (93%) stolen cars recovered last year were taken by criminals in ‘relay’ attacks.

Earlier this month West Midlands Police urged motorists to check their cars were locked when driving to shops due to a spate of thefts by criminals jamming fob signals in car parks in detail.

Mr Billyeald said it was a ‘game of cat and mouse’ with organized crime gangs who were behind most car thefts.

“Organized crime rather than opportunistic theft”

“It’s driven by organized crime rather than opportunistic theft like in the 1990s,” he said.

“He leans towards high-end vehicles, which are stripped of parts to rebuild legitimately salvaged cars or shipped overseas to countries where the infrastructure allows stolen cars to be on their roads.

“Because it’s focused on organized crime, there’s finance behind it to go and get that knowledge, to get people to develop the ‘relay’ kit that does the job, and then ‘produce’ it so that it be cheap and widely available.”