What is Relay Theft and How to Prevent it

Keyless entry and keyless start are a convenient feature for modern vehicles but as technology has evolved so have thieves. Learn what relay theft is and how you can reduce the risk of your car being stolen in this article.

Keyless entry and start vehicles use a fob or card to lock, unlock and even start your vehicle without the need to put a key into the lock or ignition. They make it much easier to get into your car with your arms full, or when it’s raining and your keys are buried at the bottom of your bag.

Additionally, vehicles with keyless start don’t need the lock barrel in the steering wheel column which gives drivers a little more space and reduces the risk of knee injury if they’re involved in an accident.

Although there are many benefits to keyless entry and start technology it does introduce a new way for thieves to target your car.

What is Relay Theft?

Relay theft, or key hacking, is used to describe the theft of vehicles using their keyless technology. The thieves use devices to connect to the key’s signal and then relay this to the vehicle to access the car even if your keys are safely in the house.

How Does Relay Theft Work?

Thieves will usually work in pairs with one using a transmitting device and standing close to your door to pick up and transmit the signal and a second person at the car ready to open the door and start the engine. This entire process can take as little as 30 seconds.

The devices used by thieves are relatively cheap and some can pick up signal from over 100 metres away.

Is Your Mercedes at Risk of Relay Theft?

If you have to push a button on your key or have an older model or spare key where you need to insert it into the vehicle to unlock your car then you are not at risk of relay theft. But if you have a key or fob that just needs to be near the vehicle and you press a button on the door handle to enter it then your car uses this wireless technology that is susceptible to relay theft.

What is Mercedes Doing to Combat Relay Theft?

Mercedes are working hard to ensure the safety of their vehicles across all areas including relay theft. They have introduced motion sensor key fobs which go into a sleep mode when they have been inactive for 40 seconds to reduce the risk of relay theft.

Regular software updates also include updates that help prevent relay theft by strengthening software protections. This is why it’s important you keep up to date with these updates.

How to Avoid Relay Theft

There are also a few steps that you can take in order to reduce the risk of relay theft as well as staying on top of the software updates.

You should keep your keys in a safe location, rather than by the front door keeping them further in the house and in a container that blocks the signal so it cannot be hijacked by hackers. Signals can be blocked by a metal container, specialist faraday pouch or even the fridge.

Additionally, if you are able to turn off the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in the vehicle this will help reduce the risk of it being stolen through wireless technology.

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