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Car theft numbers are through the roof. While other crime rates are falling, grand theft auto is at the highest rates per capita since 2008. In Illinois alone, car theft shot up 35% in one year. Some owners are fighting back and keeping their car key fobs by their bed instead of their front door, and this tactic just might work.

Why are car theft rates so high? It may be because criminals are rapidly discovering new vulnerabilities in old or recent cars. Some of these are made possible by cutting-edge theft technology available online. Then criminals are sharing their strategies on social media. As a result, certain “viral” makes and models are becoming especially trendy to steal.

One popular theft method targets cars equipped with keyless entry and keyless engine start/stop buttons. It is called a “relay attack.” The first thief approaches a home’s front door and holds up the antenna of a device that “relays” the key fob’s signal. The second thief holds a similar device by the car and–if the signal is transmitted successfully–they can open your car’s door and start its engine. [See video example below].

A wireless key fob held up in front of a black Audi wagon
Audi wireless key fob | Swansway Motor Group via Unsplash

A relay attack has one weakness. It assumes you’re storing your key by your front door. Some owners have found they can foil this theft method by storing their primary key fob–and any spares–far away from the front door. Putting them by your bed has another benefit. You may be able to trigger your car’s alarm if you see or hear someone attempting to steal it.

As the range of these relay devices increases, some car owners are taking additional steps. Many are purchasing RFID blocking pouches or cases to shield their key fobs. Still others are resorting to wrapping their key fobs in aluminum foil at night.

One surefire way to thwart a relay attack is to disable your vehicle’s keyless entry feature. If you must click a button on your key fob to unlock your car, a regular relay attack won’t work.

Next, find out why some car owners are cutting the wires to their OBD port to thwart thieves, or see more ways to secure your vehicle in the video below: