A man locks his car with a gym bag on his shoulder, showing how you can protect your vehicle from electronic car theft

Electronic car theft — also known as keyless car theft or a relay attack — is on the rise as more and more vehicles become equipped with modern technology, including keyless entry remotes and push-start buttons. If you own a car with a keyless entry system, you could be a potential target. Here’s what you need to know to protect your vehicle.

What is electronic car theft?

To commit electronic car theft, thieves use a wireless transmitter device and relay booster to capture and relay the signal from your key fob to your vehicle. These high-tech gadgets are used to override your car’s on-board diagnostic system (or the computer in your vehicle) to unlock and start your car without a physical key.

It’s worth noting that thieves aren’t always trying to steal your vehicle — sometimes their goal is to get into your car to steal your belongings or personal information, like your pink slip. But whatever a thief’s goal may be, it’s important to know how to stop them in their tracks.

How to protect your vehicle from electronic car theft

While it’s still important to use tried and true methods to prevent car theft, there are some extra steps you can take to protect your vehicle from electronic car theft:

  • Keep your keys away from the perimeter of your home. Store your keys away from entrances, especially the front door. And remember — always take your keys with you when you’re out and about. Never leave your car unattended while running or locked with the windows down, even if you’re just running a quick errand.
  • Place your fob in a signal blocking pouch or turn off your fob’s wireless signal. An inexpensive signal blocking pouch or box (also known as a Faraday pouch or box, named for the scientist who invented them) can intercept the radio frequency of your key fob, preventing thieves from relaying your fob’s information to your vehicle to unlock and steal it. Some key fobs will allow you to turn off their wireless signal, which can also help protect your vehicle.
  • Stay on top of tech updates for your car. Make sure your car is up to date with the newest software, as there could be security features and fixes to address evolving theft threats. If you have a newer car, also consider looking into programming your car to shut down if your phone is not nearby. This way, even if a thief has detected your key fob’s signal, they won’t be able to get into your car.
  • Add extra security features to your car. While a steering wheel lock is a practical anti-theft device to help scare off thieves, there are other security features you can use to make stealing your car even more difficult, such as a keypad with a passcode, a kill switch, or an after-market alarm that will go off if a thief disarms the car’s built-in alarm system. A hidden GPS is also a helpful device to assist police if your car is stolen.
  • Don’t leave personal information or valuables in your car (and while you’re at it, keep your car tidy!). Valuable items like laptops, wallets, and even loose change are all tempting to a thief, while documents with personal information can leave you vulnerable to identity theft. To make your car less of a target for theft, don’t leave any valuables or documents that include personal information, like your pink slip, visible in the car — especially overnight.

Have a car with keyless entry? Take small steps to protect your vehicle from electronic car theft.

Looking for additional tips to protect your car against theft? Follow these simple steps to deter thieves:

6 ways to prevent car theft

Car theft is on the rise. Follow these simple steps to deter potential thieves and protect your vehicle.

  1. Lock your car and close all your windows.
  2. Keep valuables hidden in the trunk or glove box.
  3. Park in well-lit, visible areas. Try to park close to busy building entrances or in view of a security camera.
  4. Hide your keys instead of leaving them in an obvious spot. Did you know thieves can hijack a wireless key fob's signal to open and start a car? Store your keys away from your front door so the signal is weaker.
  5. Install a physical anti-theft device, like a steering wheel lock.
  6. Utilize your car's alarm system.

If your car doesn't have a built-in alarm system, consider installing an aftermarket system.

Keep your car secure with these proactive parking tips!

Protect what matters most.

Every year, the Insurance Bureau of Canada releases a list of the top 10 most stolen vehicles in Canada. SUVs, luxury vehicles, and pick-up trucks are typically at the top of the list. Whether or not your vehicle is on the list, all car owners should take the same precautions. By staying informed and taking these simple actions, you can help protect your vehicle from electronic car theft.

Car theft can happen even when you’ve taken all the right steps to prevent it. Reach out to your group’s licensed car insurance broker to make sure you have the right coverage to protect you if your vehicle is ever stolen.

What is electronic car theft? Share this article on Facebook or Twitter to let your friends and family know how to protect themselves.