Hundreds of best-selling cars are 'at risk of keyless theft'

Four of the five best-selling cars are susceptible to "keyless theft", new research claims.

An investigation by consumer group which? found the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf, Nissan Qashqai and Ford Focus all have a higher risk of being broken into - pushing premiums up as a result.

In an analysis of more than 237 cars tested, it found of the five best sellers, only the Vauxhall Corsa was deemed safe from such attacks - because it cannot be purchased with keyless entry and start.

Thieves have been using keyless theft - also known as the relay attack - for several years, but manufacturers continue to make new models that can be stolen in this way, meaning there is an ever-larger pool of vehicles for thieves to target.

The General German Automobile Club (ADAC) tested a total of 237 keyless cars and found that all but three of them were susceptible to relay attacks. 230 of the vehicles tested, from more than 30 brands, could be unlocked and started using relay boxes, while a further four models could be either unlocked or started.

The only three keyless cars that were not susceptible to relay attacks were from Jaguar Land Rover - the latest models of the Discovery and Range Rover, and the 2018 Jaguar i-Pace.

Using ‘relay’ boxes - whereby one is placed near your car and the other near where you keep your key - criminals can lengthen the radio signal produced by your fob, tricking your car into thinking the key is within close enough range to be unlocked and started.

What’s more, the 2018 models of the Ford Eco-Sport and Nissan Leaf are among those that include keyless technology as standard, and yet are still susceptible to these attacks.

Which? said car manufacturers are sacrificing the security of cars for a small added convenience.

Harry Rose, at Which?, said: “With more than one car being stolen every seven minutes, it’s important that people can feel confident in the security of their vehicle.

“The fact that so many cars on the road are susceptible to keyless theft simply isn’t good enough. We want manufacturers to up their game when it comes to making their vehicles safe from theft.”

However Mike Hawes, at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said more needs to be done to tacking sophisticated thieves.

"New cars are more secure than ever, and the latest technology has helped bring down theft dramatically with, on average, less than 0.3 percent of the cars on our roads stolen.

"Criminals will always look for new ways to steal cars; it’s an ongoing battle and why manufacturers continue to invest billions in ever more sophisticated security features – ahead of any regulation. However, technology can only do so much and we continue to call for action to stop the open sale of equipment with no legal purpose that helps criminals steal cars."

Don’t make your car look more appealing to thieves than it already does (e.g. never leave valuables on view).

Cars are far more likely to be stolen at night. If you can’t park overnight in the locked garage, try and park in a well-lit area, or consider investing in CCTV.

If you use the remote-locking button on your key fob, make sure you check the doors are actually locked - this will ensure you beat any thieves using a remote signal blocker.

Keep your car keys out of sight at home and never within close proximity of your front door. If you own a keyless car, contact your manufacturer to find out how you can protect yourself.

Use a steering wheel lock. The best locks are approved by Secured by Design.

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