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Protect your vehicle from keyless van theft

The rise of keyless van theft

Keyless theft is a rising epidemic, allowing thieves to break into and steal a vehicle in as little as ten seconds.1

But while you may associate keyless theft typically with car owners, this isn’t always the case. Van drivers are also at risk, with 89% of Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) stolen last year without the owner’s keys.2

Contractors must be aware of the increased risks of keyless theft and take the necessary security measures in order to keep their vehicles safe.

What is keyless van theft?

Keyless theft, as the name suggests, is where thieves use master keys or electronic devices to break into a vehicle without ever having the owner’s keys – affecting both traditional key-entry models, and those with a keyless ignition system.

Vehicles with keyless entry systems are thought to be the most at risk, giving thieves easy access to vehicles from right outside the owner’s home. Vehicle tracking experts, Tracker, recently found 96% of motorists with keyless models to be at risk of having their vehicle stolen through the signal relay method, as explained below.1

Let’s have a closer look at how these two common types of van theft work in practice:

  • Master key theft
    A skeleton key is a tool traditionally used by locksmiths, however they have become common in aiding vehicle thefts. In 2017, a stream of reported vehicle thefts were put down to the use of a master or ‘skeleton’ key, that could be purchased online for as little as £20.3
  • Signal relaying
    There has recently been a lot of controversy around the security of keyless entry systems.4

    Vehicles with keyless entry use fobs to emit a short-range radio signal to allow the owner to unlock the doors. The same signal is then used to start the ignition for vehicles with start buttons. Signal relay is where thieves use a wireless transmitter to boost the signal from a nearby fob, tricking the vehicle into unlocking. While the key still has to be fairly close by, this method allows thieves to easily steal vehicles off driveways or parked outside their owner’s homes.5

How to avoid falling victim to keyless van theft

There are a number of things contractors can do to protect their vehicles from theft. Some of these include:

  • Keep your keys in a blocking pouch

    If you have a keyless entry system, it’s a good idea to invest in a ‘blocking pouch’ or to keep your keys in a tin box. This will prevent thieves from being able to amplify the signal.
  • Turn off your keyless fob signal
    It is possible to turn off your keyless fob. You can find out how to do this using your vehicle manual.
  • Use a steering lock
    It might seem old-fashioned, but using a steering lock might just be enough to deter thieves from targeting your vehicle. Anything that might make your van more difficult to steal will aid in diverting unwanted attention to your vehicle.
  • Park securely
    Pay attention to where you park your van. You should always park in a well-lit area with lots of footfall to minimise the risk of theft. If you have a garage, be sure to install proper security systems, motion detector lighting and even CCTV to keep your van safe.
  • Empty your van
    Never leave anything of value inside your van for long periods of time. Leaving valuable tools or equipment parked up overnight won’t only make your van a more tempting target, but could result in you losing your tools as well as your van in the event of a break-in.6

Will my insurance cover keyless theft?

Keyless theft can be carried out without leaving any sign of forced entry, putting both your tools and your vehicle at risk. This can also cause problems when it comes to claiming on your contractors' insurance as some insurers exclude claims where no forcible entry or exit is used.7

Make sure you know the limitations of your policies. Check the terms of your motor insurance policy to find out if your van is covered for keyless theft.

1. motoringresearch.com/keyless-car-theft-how-to-prevent 
2. commercialfleet.org/rise-in-keyless-van-thefts-reported-in-2018 
3. bbc.co.uk/epidemic-of-van-tool-thefts-blamed-on-skeleton-key 
4. thisismoney.co.uk/New-cars-susceptible-keyless-theft-named-security-experts 
5. driving.co.uk/six-ways-thieves-can-break-into-a-car-and-how-to-prevent-it 
6. locksmiths.co.uk/keyless-car-theft 
7. greaterbirminghamchambers.com/does-your-prestige-car-insurance-cover-you-for-keyless-car-theft