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Criminals increasingly targeting KEYLESS VEHICLES in “carhacking” surge –


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New vehicles have moved away from using traditional keys, but this hasn’t dissuaded criminals. In fact, vehicles with keyless entry systems are increasingly being targeted by “carhackers.”

According to a report by the Arlington, Virginia-based nonprofit Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), one particular model – the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat – is 60 times more likely to be targeted than any other vehicle model built between 2020 and 2022. The HLDI is under the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and supports the latter.

Criminals have found various ways to steal keyless vehicles, and here are some of them.

Relay hack

This modus operandi usually involves two people working together – each with a relay device that can capture the always-on key fob signal up to 300 feet away and then transmit it to the target vehicle car. An entire heist can take only about five minutes.

These relay devices are readily available on the internet for as little as $98, according to Andy Bars, head of police liaison at security firm Tracker.

According to Kim Komando, “researchers from a Chinese security firm were able to build better devices that strengthen the signal to where thieves can steal keyless vehicles that are more than a thousand feet away from the key fob – with two transmitter devices built for only $22.”

American Automobile Association spokesperson Mark Schieldrop told WBZ-TV about a supposed new TikTok challenge teaching people how to use special amplifier devices to get the signal from your key fob to unlock your vehicle. (Related: Study: TikTok trend of hotwiring certain car models linked to surge in car thefts in U.S. cities.)


Car key jamming

Unique signals from remote keys are transmitted via radio waves from the fob to the vehicles. Tech-savvy thieves use low-powered signal jammers to interrupt and overpower signals from remote key fobs – preventing them from being locked properly and allowing easy entry.

Also available online, these jamming devices can affect fairly large areas like a whole car park – they have a range of about 75 meters (about 246 feet).

CAN (controller area network) bus attack

To a vehicle, a CAN bus is its “central nervous system,” says Steve Lobello, owner of S&A Security in Chicago.

The auto industry uses the “CAN bus” – a message-based electronic system that allows its electronic control units (ECUs) or various parts of the vehicle (e.g., airbags, audio systems, door locks, engine control unit, power steering control, power windows, seats, tire pressure sensors, etc.).

Modern automobiles can have up to 100 ECUs communicating with each other – each holding information that is relevant to other parts of its network, explains Lobello.

“You can pretty much do things, such as gain access to a vehicle’s main frame, delete and reprogram new keys and just basically speak to the vehicle in less than a minute. Keyless car theft can take only 20-30 seconds.”

The CAN bus can also be used with “telematics” – technology that captures important information about operations, bus driver behavior, safety and vehicle health.

Tire pressure sensor hijack

Tech-savvy car thieves can hack tire sensors, for instance, and send false tire pressure readings to lure victims into stopping their car. Once stopped, they can attack drivers and then run off with the keyless vehicle.

Onboard diagnostics hack

Komando explains that anyone can buy exploit kits that use the onboard diagnostics port, which virtually every modern vehicle has, to replicate keys, send false error codes and even program new keys to use for vehicle theft

How to prevent keyless car theft

Master locksmiths from also provided these quick tips to protect keyless entry vehicles from being carjacked.

  • Park vehicles in a garage or a well-lit area.
  • Always manually double-check that car doors (including your trunk) are locked and that the fob has worked before leaving the vehicle in your garage, on the street or in a car park.
  • Never leave the key fob, personal belongings and anything valuable when leaving the vehicle unattended.
  • Keep key fobs away from the vehicle, glass doors and windows.
  • Store key fobs in signal-blocking pouches that can hold keys, like a shielded radio frequency identification (RFID)-blocking pouch or a Faraday bag. They can also be wrapped in aluminum foil since metal can block a key fob’s signal. A DIY foil-linked box also works well for storing keys, including duplicates.
  • Always be aware of surroundings; look out for any suspicious individuals or devices.
  • Always pull over at a well-lit, busy public area, such as a gas station or a service garage, if checking tires.
  • Invest in and install an anti-jamming device, such as a signal amplifier, which can help to strengthen the key fob signal and prevent it from being jammed.
  • Change the vehicle’s onboard WiFi network password regularly. Practice good computer safety practices.
  • Invest in vehicle jamming detectors that will set an alarm or any other indicator when a blocking signal is detected.
  • Install steering wheel locks and pedal locks to prevent car thieves from getting away when they manage to enter.
  • Consult with a trusted, reputable car dealer about cybersecurity measures they are employing before purchasing a vehicle with built-in telematics.
  • Seek immediate assistance from experienced and reputable car security experts if there is a hunch that the vehicle has been compromise, or if there is a need to replace or reset car keys and car locks.
  • Always make sure the vehicle’s software is always up-to-date.

Taking conscious steps to practice good vehicle security will greatly reduce the chances of car theft.

Visit for more stories about vehicle thefts in the U.S. and other countries.

Watch this video explaining how keyless car theft works.

This video is from the Daily Videos channel on

More related stories:

National Crime Agency: Car hacking tech linked to sudden increase in vehicle thefts in the UK.

Tesla’s keyless remote app fails and leaves driver stranded with no vehicle or cell service.

Car theft has been effectively decriminalized in London as less than 1% of car thieves face any legal repercussions.

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Written by: radioroxi

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