How to avoid keyless theft in South Africa

As a vehicle owner, the theft statistics in South Africa can be a big concern. Statistics released for 2018 showed that 41 049 motor vehicles were stolen, and 13 149 hijacked throughout the course of the year. Of the thefts, 8269 occurred in Gauteng, 7104 in the Western Cape and 8240 in KZN. This is enough to give any vehicle owner sleepless nights.

At the moment, a lot of focus is being placed on the safeguarding of keyless cars, since a marked rise in theft of these vehicles has been reported around the world due to criminals who are exploiting the vulnerabilities of the keyless entry system.

The latest criminal ruse sees thieves working in pairs using a relay amplifier and transmitter to 'hijack' a car key signal for a car parked outside its owners house, with the key inside the home. In this way, they are able to trick the car into thinking the real key is in use by capturing the key fob signal, which allows them to gain entry to the vehicle and drive it off. Although this only works for one drive cycle, it still means your vehicle is removed from your premises, and can be taken off the grid.

A recent study found that 110 different cars from 27 different auto manufacturers were vulnerable to this mode of attack. They are all working on updating their tech to stay ahead of the criminals, but in the meantime there are also a few things you can do to keep your keyless car safe in South Africa in 2019. This includes:

  • Switching off your key when not in use if your car model offers this functionality (see your owner's manual)
  • Keeping your key away from your front door, in a metal tin or something called a Faraday pouch or a 'fob guard', which is made from materials that block its signal.
  • Manually check that your car doors are in fact locked before you walk away.
  • Fitting your vehicle with a tracking device (which will also lower your monthly insurance premiums).
  • Not keeping any valuables in sight and making sure that your boot and sunroof are locked.
  • Going old school with a steering wheel lock or gearstick lock.

Following these guidelines will allow you to keep your keyless car safe from theft in South Africa. Keep an eye on the blog in coming weeks and months for more news from inside the REEDS camp, as well as insider tips on enjoying, caring for and driving your vehicle. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to a REEDS representative if you would like to schedule a service, book a test drive or learn more about the Opel and Isuzu models we currently have on offer.