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Crime prevention advice issued in relation to keyless car thefts

An increase in keyless car theft, also known as relay theft, is being seen across the county and the UK.

During 2022/23 there were approximately 480 incidents keyless car thefts in Hampshire and Isle of Wight, this is up from around 135 in 2021/22. Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary would like to encourage owners of keyless vehicles to take extra precautions to prevent becoming a victim to this crime, particularly owners of high value keyless cars.

Thieves are able to connect to the key’s signal from outside the property to trick the car into unlocking and the ignition starting, this is done with a device that doesn’t need entry into the owner’s home. It doesn’t take long for this to happen, up to two minutes in total, and often the owner has no idea it’s happening until it’s too late.

BBC News recently covered a mum who had her car stolen and the impact it had on her. The thief was spotted on her camera using technology to relay the key’s signal inside her home to the car to unlock it and was able to drive away: Relay theft: Mum’s warning over criminals targeting keyless cars – BBC News

There are a number of steps you can take to protect your vehicle, but it’s important to use a combination of methods and utilise locks and other items to deter thieves and protect yourself to the greatest extent possible.

To protect your vehicle from being stolen, you can:

  • Keep keys out of sight and away from doors and windows
  • Use a signal blocking pouch, known as a Faraday Bag, to store your keys
  • Turn off your Keyless Fob’s Wireless Signal
  • Use a tested and approved Steering Wheel /Pedal / Gear Lock as a deterrent
  • Tracking devices can help track down your vehicle and the perpetrator should it be taken
  • Check with your manufacturer to make sure your car is as secure as it can be
  • Re-programme your keys if you buy a second hand car
  • Park securely or use your garage if you have one
  • Use CCTV and lighting.

We are working in partnership with manufacturer Disklok, to offer a one-time unique code (HPDSK15), which will be available for the month of July for Hampshire and Isle of Wight residents to purchase a steering wheel lock with a discount.

Chief Inspector Scott Johnson, Tactical Lead for Serious and Organised Acquisitive Crime, said: “Keyless car thefts have increased significantly over the last year.  The modus operandi and technology used by the organised criminals committing these crimes means that cars are taken quickly and opportunities to disrupt them are slim.

“Patrolling officers will be familiar with the equipment used when stopping and searching cars and will be vigilant for ‘mission cars’, typically unremarkable saloon cars with multiple occupants, especially if seen overnight in residential areas where target vehicles might be located.”

Residents can report keyless car theft to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary by calling 101 or by reporting it online.