A big thank you to the Police Scotland Edinburgh Prevention and Interventions Team for the below information.
Advice for Car Owners – "Relay Theft"
Increasingly we have seen instances whereby vehicle owners have had their car stolen yet
they are still in possession of both keys and there are no signs of forced entry to the
vehicle itself. This may suggest that criminals are using a technique called "relay theft".
Relay Attack – How It Works:
Each of the thieves carries a "relay box" – a device that relays the signal from the car key to the car.
One attacker gets near enough to the key (in the house) to pick up the signal, "relays" it to
the second box carried by the second criminal, who’s near enough to the car for the signal to be
transmitted to it and trigger the unlocking. The criminals are then free to drive away in the
stolen car, and to replace the locks at a later date.
In theory, all cars with keyless entry systems are vulnerable to the attack, but criminals have
mostly been going after Audi, BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Land Rover, Mercedes and Volkswagen cars.
Here are a few simple steps to minimise the risk of relay theft:
- Keep your key device in a "Faraday pouch" which has a lining that prevents the items inside from receiving or transmitting radio frequency signals.
- Check vehicle doors are locked before walking away.
- Listen for the central lock engaging and watch for indicators flashing when locking the car.
- Do not store keys near windows or doors.
- If you buy a second-hand keyless car, get the key reprogrammed.
- Make sure the key and any spares are stored securely and safely.
- Consider having an On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) lock professionally fitted.
- Electronic OBD security is available – seek the main dealer’s advice.
- Use a steering wheel lock.
- Installation of a Pedal Box that encases the driving pedals in a high visibility secure box.
For further advice contact your local Crime Prevention Officer, or visit our website
Safer Communities Safer Scotland booklet from Neighbourhood Watch Scotland
Original Message Sent By
Mark Armstrong (NHWN, Community Support Officer, NW Scotland)