Police have issued advice to help motorists avoid keyless car thefts after they received an increasing number of reports of thieves using technology to gain access to cars in Bexhill.
Police said the technology is used to fool keyless entry systems into thinking that the key is nearby, known as relay theft.
The advice was issued after three Ford Fiesta ST’s were stolen in Bexhill on Monday night (October 11).
Two were reported stolen from the Cooden Drive area.
Rother Police said there are steps motorists can take to stop the signal from their car key being amplified and putting their car at risk.
Police said: “Only cars that have a passive keyless entry system are at risk. These allow drivers to open and start their cars without removing the keyless fob from their pocket.
“Cars with standard remote fobs are not at risk. If you have to push a button on the fob to gain entry, it’s not a keyless system and your car is not vulnerable to relay theft.
“Thieves take advantage of a vulnerability in the keyless technology by finding a car parked close to the owner’s house – where the car key is usually kept.
“Car thieves work in pairs in relay attacks. One criminal will hold an amplification device up against the front wall of a home searching for a signal from the keyless fob. The device then relays the key’s signal to an accomplice, who is holding another device against the car door.
“This fools the vehicle’s keyless entry system into thinking that the key is close by (usually these keys have a range of two meters), enabling one of the thieves to gain entry to the car.”
What can I do to protect my car?
Rother Police added: “Don’t forget the basics – ensure that your car is properly locked and consider low-tech security measures, such as a steering wheel lock or locked gates, which can make life harder for thieves and could act as a deterrent for criminals who may move on to try to find an easier target.
“Make sure your car keys are kept as far away as possible from doors and windows and, if possible, shut inside a drawer when you are at home.
“You can also purchase anti-theft pouches and containers to keep your keys in, which can help block the signal given off by your keys.
“Some keys also have the option of turning off the wireless signal. Consult your vehicle manual or contact the manufacturer to check if your key comes with this feature.
“If the worst should happen and your car is stolen, having a tracking device fitted can help your vehicle to be recovered.”