These days, most thieves have moved beyond the hotwiring you might see in an action movie. Modern cars have a transponder chip in the ignition key that has to match the particular car to start it.
In the movies, it looks like it takes a couple of minutes for an experienced thief to smash a car window and hotwire a car. But experienced criminals are looking for opportunity, access, and an easy target.
Once cars began using electronic keys, criminals learned an easier method over the old smash and grab; just steal the key. Thieves can steal keys left in mounted lock boxes at car dealerships. If they’re clever, they may be able to just snag the key off the wall. Criminals can also break into the boxes with a bolt cutter after hours.
The Trouble With Transponder Keys
Today, thieves don’t have to overcome a lot of obstacles in the car itself. They can simply use the programmed signal from the car’s keyless entry fob. But how do they get that signal?
If the keys lack a signal-blocker shield (called an RFID blocker), thieves can use a transponder device, which you can pick up online on the cheap. That electronic device can capture the keyless entry code as it’s sent from the fob to the car. They can use that captured signal to open the car door with no alarm, start it, and drive away. It’s an attractive way for criminals to take advantage of modern technology and turn it against us.
This technique has now combined with something called “relay theft.” Relay thieves work in pairs. The thieves use a transmitter device. One thief stands by the car with the transmitter. The other goes near the dealership to try to pick up a signal from a key that’s hanging from the lockbox.
Stealing a car today is easier than it’s ever been. When coupled with the expertise of serious, experienced criminals, car dealerships have a lot to worry about. Fortunately, there are a variety of methods to stop criminals in their tracks.
Preventing Keyless Car Theft at Your Auto Dealership
Making your lot less attractive to thieves is and should always be a top priority. If you make it harder for criminals to steal car parts or the car itself, they will look for other, less attractive targets of opportunity. Some of the standard methods and tools for preventing theft at an auto dealership include: