The theft of keyless entry cars and how it’s done. Police crime prevention advice

Important crime prevention advice from Humberside Police. Keyless car theft is on the rise. Find out how to protect your car.

Advice from Humberside Police:

Do you own a Ford Fiesta?

If the answer is yes, then your vehicle is at the top of the shopping list for a lot of vehicle thieves.

The Ford Fiesta was the most stolen vehicle across the UK in 2022, and with Ford ending the production of the Fiesta, some experts believe that thefts will continue to increase.

If you own a Range Rover, you are second on the list behind a Fiesta, as thieves also continue to target high value vehicles.

This information is not to cause worry if you do own a Ford Fiesta (or any other type of vehicle), but rather to provide advice that if followed, will reduce the chance of your vehicle being stolen.

One method of stealing a vehicle is called ‘Relay Theft’, and with more vehicles being fitted with keyless entry and starting, it is a method that is being used more often by vehicle thieves.

It is not only Ford Fiestas that are vulnerable to this type of theft, any keyless entry vehicle can be stolen in the same way.

How does keyless entry work?

The keyless entry on a vehicle works because the key is continually sending out signals to the vehicle and once within a certain distance, normally when the key is in the vehicle, you can press the power button to start the vehicle.

You may be able to unlock the vehicle without using the key fob, this occurs when the key is normally just outside the vehicle, for example in a coat pocket or bag.

The fob can also be used to open or lock your vehicle from a much further distance if one of the buttons is pressed. This distance does vary with makes and models, but you will be surprised how far away you can stand from your vehicle and still lock/unlock it.

The distance may vary if there are obstructions in between the key and the vehicle such as walls, and the type of material those walls are made off can also make a difference.

If you believe that the signal from your key will not lock/unlock your vehicle when the key is in the house, give it a go, and you will likely find that it will.

How is it done?

Thieves can use devices to identify to signal from the key to your vehicle, they then ‘relay’ that signal to a second device that is able to ‘clone’ the key signal and make the vehicle think that the key is present.

The vehicle security is then deactivated and the doors can be unlocked.

As the vehicle believes the key is present, the immobiliser is also deactivated and the vehicle is allowed to start.

This can be completed in as little as 60 seconds with no noise, other than the doors opening and vehicle starting.

When driven away the vehicle will not cut out for safety reasons, and can be driven for long distances.

How to prevent it

Below is a list of options that you could consider, to reduce the risk of your vehicle being stolen, we recommend using a combination of options mentioned, to deter someone from trying to steal your vehicle.

  • A faraday pouch – once a key is placed inside, the signal to the car is blocked, so a ‘relay theft’ cannot take place. These pouches can be bought in shops or online and are normally available at a reasonable price. To check the signal is blocked, put the key in the pouch and try to lock/unlock your vehicle, if nothing happens, the signal is being blocked. We do recommend looking for a Secured by Design approved product.
  •  Make sure any spare key is also placed in a faraday pouch, as that will also be sending out a signal to your vehicle.
  • Some fobs can be switched off, if you have that option, consider utilising it, but still place the key in a faraday pouch.
  • Check to see if your vehicle has a motion sensor in the key, where the signal will be turned off after a few minutes, again we would still recommend using a faraday pouch as well.
  • Consider using a steering wheel or gear stick lock – look for the Sold Secure gold or Secured by Design logos which means the product has been tested to a high standard.

Other options that can be considered to further prevent the theft of a vehicle are –

  • Locking gates with a sold secure approved lock.
  • Consider fitting removable bollards behind the vehicle.
  • Consider fitting motion activated CCTV covering your vehicle, with adequate lighting.
  • If the option is available, keep your vehicle in a locked garage.
  • If you park your vehicle on a street, try to park under streetlights if you can.
  • Install a tracker to the vehicle so if it is stolen, it is easier to locate.
  • Don’t leave the vehicle keys in view or where they can be easily located, as houses are broken into just to locate the keys for a vehicle parked outside.

Information relating to relay thefts and other crime prevention advice can be found at

Please share this advice with your friends, family and networks.


VANEL currently can provide small Faraday pouches which you can hide your phone or keys in. They are currently available only in East Marsh through the Safer Streets community equipment scheme.