Keyless access to the car is convenient, but unfortunately, this also opens a gate for car thieves. The convenience of not having to put the key in the lock to open the car door is often paid for by the owner with a significantly increased risk of car theft. The thieves often steal not just one car, but a number of vehicles. In spring 2020, for example, the Heilbronn police arrested a gang of thieves who had stolen at least 27 cars worth 1.4 million euros by exploiting the keyless-go system. The investigators only discovered the seven-member gang from Poland after months of searching.
What can be done against such keyless-go thieves and what you need to know about the keyless-go system, is what we would like to explain here.
- Keyless Go Theft Statistics
- Keyless Go Switch off (Mazda, Opel, Mercedes, BMW, Audi)
- Keyless Go protection aluminium foil or aluminium can
- Keyless Go Protection by cover or key Safe
- theft protection car keyless go car keys
- RFID radiation protection
- Keyless Go Readout
- Keyless Go Scanner
- This prevents the keyless go theft (Swisstrack Pro)
The ADAC has made a test on about 300 vehicles with Keyless-Go locking technology (2019). With nearly all models it was possible to unlock and drive away with the vehicle with a simple self-made radio extension. That this is actually done more and more by thieves, is shown by the numbers that come to the public:
- In 2019 there were 20,587 reported cases of vehicle theft in Germany alone.
- Approximately 25% of all stolen vehicles (5,428) were stolen in Berlin alone, with another focus on North Rhine-Westphalia with 4,710 stolen vehicles.
- The car insurers estimated the damage caused by car theft in 2018 alone at 298 million euros
- Depending on the police district, the rate of keyless go thefts is between 33 and over 50% of the total number of car thefts. Most police departments assume that the majority of car thefts are now attributable to keyless go technology.
Another problem for car thefts via Keyless-Go is the fact that there are no signs of break-in or burglary on the vehicle once the police find a vehicle. This often leads to the owner being suspected of having assisted the loss of the vehicle himself by means of a duplicate key. Since many cars disappear to faraway countries never to be seen again and it is then no longer possible to trace exactly how the vehicle was stolen, an automatic assignment to “theft keyless-go” is not always easy.
Only 16% of car thefts are solved
On a nationwide average, only 16% of all vehicle thefts were solved in 2019, frequently because the vehicle owner installed a tracking device with which the whereabouts of the vehicle could be clarified. Of over 20,000 stolen vehicles, only 3,288 cases were resolved in 2019. By the way, there was a particularly high clear-up rate in Bavaria: in 2019 it was 33.6%.
Most frequently stolen cars
In the statistics of the most frequently stolen cars are numerous models that are usually equipped with keyless go systems:
The most frequently stolen cars in 2019 were in Germany:
- Mazda CS-5 2.2 D AWD
- BMW X6 M
- Toyota RAV4 Hybrid 2.5
- BMW X5 M50d
- Mercedes ML 63 AMG
- BMW X6 xDrive 40d
- Audi Q7 3.0 TDI
- Land Rover Range Rover 3.0 TD
- Prius + Hybrid 1.8
- Audi RS6 Avant 4.0 TFSI Quattro
Anyone who drives one of the above-mentioned cars and does not take any additional security measures despite a keyless-go-key system is therefore acting almost negligently and must expect that sooner or later his vehicle will also be stolen.
Berlin – the capital of car theft
Berlin is interesting for car thieves, because there are many expensive cars there and you can quickly disappear in the big city bustle, but also in all directions. Keyless-Go car thieves use the good motorway connections of Berlin to Eastern Europe. Some of the stolen goods from Berlin also reach foreign countries, e.g. Russia, the Ukraine or Africa, in ship containers or car trains.
Which models are usually spared?
Car thieves usually spare models from Seat, Hyundai or Opel. But you cannot rely on that. Sometimes, these models are also stolen.
Keyless Go is basically a system that allows the unlocking (opening of the door) and also the starting of the car (via start button) without active use of a car key. This works by means of a chip, which is either contained in a card or a “key”. Keyless Go is actually a wordmark of Daimler Benz, but is now used as an umbrella term for such locking systems, just as people also mean a paper handkerchief by Tempo, although Tempo is actually only a brand of a paper handkerchief manufacturer. With the Keyless-Go system, different systems are released in the car:
- Electronic ignition lock
- central locking system
- alarm system
- engine control unit
- Body Control Unit (door control unit, comfort control unit)
It has been recognized as a problem that imitation of a key, which can be reached e.g. via range extenders, can also trigger all these functions. However, most manufacturers have so far not solved this problem in a technically satisfactory manner, which is why external alarm systems and tracking tools are recommended for keyless go vehicles.
Other product names for Keyless Go systems
The manufacturers sometimes give different names to such locking systems, which Daimler Benz calls Keyless Go, but the functions are similar. Here is a list of the names of different manufacturers:
- Mitsubishi: Smart Key System
- KIA: Smart Key
- Toyota: Smart Entry & Start
- Mazda: Login
- BMW: Comfort Access
- Audi: Comfort Key / formerly: Advanced Key
- Peugeot/Citroen: Keyless System
- Suzuki: Keyless Start
- Ford: Keyfree Power
- Nissan: Intelligent Key
Many names for the same system, but which – depending on the manufacturer – works differently in nuances. When walking, the vehicle is locked (Keyless Go) and when arriving and driving off, the vehicle is automatically unlocked (Keyless Entry). Whatever the system is called: It offers a big gateway for the abuse of this technology by car thieves at almost all manufacturers. Further down in the text there are a few tips on how to significantly reduce the risk of car theft with keyless go systems. Some things are practical, others less so. Some drivers find the risk of a keyless go system, which is often purchased with a surcharge, too great (at the latest after a car theft among friends), so they have the function deactivated in the vehicle menu or by the manufacturer’s technical team. How to do this is explained below. But there are other ways to significantly reduce the risk of car theft.
Especially if you own an expensive and desirable car, you should consider whether you don’t deliberately switch off the keyless go technology on your car. This may lead to a loss of comfort, but it also significantly reduces the risk of theft. Of course, this is particularly recommended for the vehicle types of Mazda, BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Co.
Let the Keyless Go function be deactivated on Mazda
If you want to disable your Keyless Go features on a Mazda, it’s best to contact your Mazda dealer, who will do it for you for a small two-figure sum within seconds. It’s definitely cheaper than the hassle of a stolen car.
Disable Keyless Go at Opel
Here you can usually set the keyless go function in the vehicle menu itself:
Settings –>Vehicle settings –> Passive door lock
However, this regulation only concerns the door locking system, not a possible vehicle start. This would require the Opel specialist dealer, who can do this in a few simple steps using a diagnostic tool. With some systems, such as the Opel Grandland, deactivation is not possible at all.
In principle, Opel also puts at risk all those vehicles that have an On-Start button.
Switch off Keyless Go at Mercedes
With newer keyless go systems at Mercedes, e.g. S-Class from series 222 onwards, there is a function on the key to deactivate the keyless go function completely: To do this, simply press the locking button on the key twice. If the LED lights up twice briefly and once long, the deactivation has been carried out correctly. However: Each further key press activates the function again.
But watch out: If you have two keys, of course you have to deactivate both keys with a double click to completely disable the keyless go function in your Mercedes.
Disable Keyless Go at BMW
In most BMWs, the keyless go technology in the infotainment system can be switched off in the car. The corresponding menu item can be found under “Vehicle”. More rustic is the method of removing the battery from the key, but this is a little far from practical use.
However, BMW also offers to deactivate the function in one of its service centers.
Switch off Keyless Go at Audi
For most vehicles this can be changed in the vehicle menu:
Vehicle settings –> central locking –> opening with comfort key –> deactivate
Where this does not work, the Audi service technicians deactivate it in a few minutes.
In some vehicles, the technology also works after locking the car with the key and locking it again with the door handle: Then Keyless is deactivated for the next opening procedure.
Many people buy an expensive, noble car with a comfort locking and opening system marketed under the name of Keyless Go or other names, but then wrap their key in aluminum foil from grandma’s kitchen in the evening in a somewhat rustic way so that the key cannot be read.
Apart from the fact that this of course only prevents an extension of the range and thus the opening of the vehicle if the second key is also wrapped in aluminum foil, the question arises: Does this work at all?
Simple wrapping with aluminum foil often does not work
It does not retain the extendable radio data with sufficient certainty. Experts therefore recommend wrapping the key three times with aluminum foil if you want to protect it sufficiently securely against keyless go theft of the data. Only then can you be sure that the radio signal cannot be intercepted. The aluminum foil then prevents the comfort key with the keyless go function from making contact with a radio wave extender used by thieves. The technology is somewhat impractical, as you have to pack or unpack the key practically every time you want to use or park the car. In practice, it turns out that vehicle users do not do this, for example, when they go out to eat in a restaurant or shop in a supermarket. The key then often simply moves into the trouser pocket or jacket pocket. Without aluminum foil.
Put Keyless Go key in aluminum cans
The commercially available aluminum cans for keyless go keys are usually made of a sufficiently thick aluminum layer that is suitable to prevent the radio signal from contacting a range extender. A useful tool on the chest of drawers at home. However, it remains questionable whether most drivers also use this when on the road when visiting a restaurant or supermarket. Forgetting to put the key in there can be too much and the car is gone.
Here you have to separate the wheat from the chaff. Tests have shown that some of the products offered as keyless go key covers do not provide sufficient protection. This is the case, for example, with some sleeves that were designed only for RFID protection of bank cards. The sleeves were often too thin to stop the radio signals of a keyless go key and did not guarantee the desired function. However, a key safe with an aluminum cover or layer fulfills the requirement. But of course this is not particularly practical. In addition, not every metal box protects against reading the radio signal. With aluminum cans, this is considered to be ensured. Not with other cans.
Key safe on the car – NO GO
Some people place the car key for a second user in a key safe on or near the car. For safety reasons, this is an absolute NO-GO. Do not underestimate thieves and especially car thieves. Car thieves often observe the object of desire several times before and also spy out habits. Car thieves quickly notice if the daughter of the house always grabs the same spot before using the car to get the key out of it. Storing a keyless go key in a key safe near the car is also hara-kiri: This makes it particularly easy for car thieves to steal the vehicle
As practice has shown, stealing a car with keyless go key technology is more of a child’s play than difficult for experienced car thieves and in practice is probably responsible for more than 50% of all car thefts in Germany. Keyless-Go key technology therefore does not protect against theft.
Even theft protection built into the car as standard is often switched off by using the key signal, so that the modern thief, who simply extends the radio signal of the original key with a range extender and then uses it to open and drive off the car, also overrides the alarm system. Unless a separate switching mechanism is provided for this purpose, which is often not the case with standard alarm systems. The only downer for the car thieves: In the case of stolen cars with keyless go technology, the thieves are not allowed to switch off the engine for the time being, so they usually flee the scene of the crime several hundred kilometers after the theft and leave the engine running even when refueling. Once they arrive at their destination, the vehicle technology is then outsmarted by repairs so that the engine can be restarted.
A Keyless-Go key for the car is for car thieves like an invitation to the theft. Gone are the times when you had to smash car windows under roaring or had to handle wires on locks or between the rubber of the window and the door frame for a long time. Car thieves have upgraded and use modern key-scanners and car-scanners to outwit keyless-go, or keyless-entry systems. Nobody has to get their fingers dirty anymore. The modern car thief could also come in a pinstripe suit. He usually only needs his fingers to press keys.
Which theft protection can help with keyless go keys
Swisstrack Pro is, for example, a system of this kind that kills off car thieves. As it works independently of the vehicle technology, this tracking and alarm tool does not automatically switch off when the car thief starts the vehicle and drives away via keyless go simulation. On the contrary: It alerts the owner promptly and transmits the location and route.
Integrated alarm systems are only suitable for limited use
The dangerous thing about the Keyless Go key is that the key is removed by mere presence:
- The locking of the car doors releases
- Allowing the vehicle to be started (usually by pressing a button)
- An immobilizer deactivated
- In most cases the standard built-in alarm system is also deactivated
This sounds incredibly comfortable for the driver in the first breath, but it is actually an uncanny danger. Because all these functions can also be triggered by simulating a keyless go car key by the car thieves – including deactivation of the immobilizer and standard car alarm system.
However, here – with little effort – additional tools can help, see below (Swisstrack Pro).
RFID protective sleeves are available on the market for the RFID chips built into the keyless go keys. Some of them are from Asian cheap production and are designed in a way that they do not work reliably. Others actually block the radio signal. A reliably functioning RFID blocker against the signal from the car key is not yet available on the market. In practice, however, users of premium cars do not want to wrap their car keys in an RFID protective cover at every stop and then unpack them again a short time later. The benefit is then more theoretical. A passing-by thief has caught the signal of the key in seconds and can use this to open the car. Cars are not only stolen at home, but also in restaurant parking lots, at the beach parking lot or in the office parking lot.
What are RFID radiation protection fabrics often made of?
Corresponding bags or containers sold as RFID radiation protection are often made of a fabric containing fibers of copper threads with nickel coating. Correctly done, the following signals can be shielded:
- GSM signals
- LTE signals
- RFID signals
- NFC signals
The problem with these fabrics, which are often of Asian origin, is that they are available on the German market in different qualities. Some work reliably, others do not. This is due to the weaving quality and thickness of the threads. For the layman, however, it is difficult to assess from the outside.
Properly produced, such fabrics can indeed shield RFID signals and look like a Faraday cage. HF signals can thus be shielded.
How does RFID work?
RFID is the abbreviation for Rradio Frequency Identification. This system mainly consists of a microchip and a small coil that has an antenna function. A certain code is programmed into the chip, but it can also be changed. An RFID chip usually does not need its own power supply, so RFID chips in bank cards do not have a battery. The chips usually work purely passively. The chips work with an electromagnetic alternating field, which is built up by a reader. The magnetic field generates a small voltage in the coil and thus activates the chip. RFID chips require very little power. Even 0.35 microamperes are completely sufficient for transmission. The RFID chip changes the field emitted by the reader (reader). From the response in the alternating field, the reader can determine certain data and subsequently trigger actions, such as opening a car door.
Most people are familiar with the RFID chip from bank cards, which enable contactless payment. You can pay at the checkout in the supermarket without inserting the card into a reader. The card only has to be near the reader and the cashier can debit amounts from the account – without a secret code and without having seen the card. Because the door is wide open to fraud, supermarkets have generally limited this option to 25 euros or similar small amounts.
With the keyless go car key, however, it has been decided that thieves can also steal cars for more than 100,000 euros with a 100-euro readout device. Despite years of criticism from car insurers, the police and even car clubs, this has obviously not changed. The vast majority of vehicles with Keyless Go car keys can be easily opened and stolen by car thieves in seconds.
To read a Keyless Go key, all you need is a technical tool, which you can order for free on the Internet for under 100 euros. So the hurdle for possible thieves is not too high. Range extenders (repeaters), as they are used by car thieves, rarely cost much more than 100 Euro and can also be purchased for free on the Internet. So you don’t make it too difficult for thieves. After a few seconds of searching, every thief will find the manual on the net, which can also be used to steal vehicles. The process of reading and stealing a vehicle does not require any special intelligence or expensive technology. Moreover, the “investment” for the car thief has already paid for itself after the first theft of a high-value vehicle.
Scanners with which the signals of Keyless Go keys can be collected and scanned on the market are freely available on the world market and only require an investment in the three-digit Euro range. For someone who wants to steal a Mercedes S-class or a high-quality Audi or BMW with Keyless Go system, this is a “worthwhile” business. Moreover, the one-time investment can be used as often as desired and enables the car thieves to steal numerous cars. Once the police have managed to get hold of such car thieves, it is almost always discovered that the thieves have stolen a large number of cars with this technology. Because it is made so easy for them. Keyless Go scanners are easy to hide in pockets, are small and not necessarily noticed by observers. The same applies to range extenders, which are often no larger than a smartphone.
How do Keyless Go scanners work?
To crack vehicles with keyless go or keyless entry key technology, today’s car thieves often use two devices for radio wave extension:
If the key-scanner has picked up the radio signal of the car key, e.g. because the key-scanner has been brought near the apartment entrance door, it transmits the signal to the car-scanner, which is then brought into the car interior (the car has opened in the meantime) and usually enables the starting process of the car without any problems.
The perpetrator can then drive the car as far away as he wants. The only catch: If the engine goes off, he won’t be able to start it without a new signal from the original vehicle key. That’s why car thieves drive as far as the tank is full, then refuel while the engine is running and drive to a backyard workshop, where they can then calmly manipulate the technology so that the vehicle can be moved even without the original key. No problem for a car mechanic.
So if you see someone filling up a car with the engine running at a filling station somewhere, you should ask yourself whether the driver also fits the car.
When jamming, the insurance doesn’t pay
If the car is broken into by jamming, the insurers may not pay because the partially comprehensive insurance can then claim that the vehicle was not locked, which is a prerequisite for the insurance cover. Anyone who then trusts his car door to close (e.g. by pressing the car key) when he leaves is left behind. This can be suppressed by using a jammer that is freely available on the market. In the belief that the car is locked, the owner moves away from the vehicle, which the car thief then uses to enter the unlocked vehicle. Ideally, he then only steals the contents or built-in devices. If things don’t go well, he steals the entire vehicle. Probably the one who then has a tracking device like the Swisstrack Pro in the vehicle.
A car is stolen in Germany every 30 minutes
Every 30 minutes a vehicle is stolen in Germany, the insurance industry does not even show how many of them are equipped with Keyless Go technology, but according to the police it is now the majority. Make sure that this doesn’t happen to you by getting an immediate alarm if someone moves your vehicle. We’ll show you how to do this below:
Cars with Keyless-Go technology allow comfortable leaving of the vehicle and comfortable getting in and starting. Without inserting a key into a lock and without having to press a button on the key. In return, however, the technology also allows thieves to steal the vehicle easily, against which only the at least vehicle manufacturers have developed a convincing technology.
In recent tests by the ADAC (2019/2020), the testers succeeded in stealing over 300 common types of vehicles with keyless go systems simply in seconds and driving away with them. This was technically prevented in only 6 vehicles.
Theft protection is easy with Swisstrack Pro even with Keyless Go
With a minimal investment and a quick installation that can be carried out even by a layperson, the use of a Swisstrack Pro device can prevent theft or quickly detect and clear it up.
How does it work?
The Swisstrack Pro GPS Tracker is a small, inconspicuous device that you attach to a concealed place in or on the vehicle, e.g. on the underside of the vehicle. This is particularly easy thanks to an ultra-strong magnet. No installation or wiring is necessary. The device is also waterproof and protected against splash water.
Geofence function alarms immediately
Various alarms can be programmed via a free of charge supplied software, e.g:
- Geofence function: If the vehicle leaves a certain radius or location, an alarm is immediately sent via SMS
- Noise alarm: If a certain noise level is exceeded, an alarm is triggered, e.g. via SMS to the vehicle owner
- Movement alarm: As soon as the vehicle moves, an alarm is triggered and the owner immediately receives an SMS
Anyone who drives away in a keyless-Go car will be pursued
If a thief now drives away with a vehicle protected by Swisstrack Pro, the vehicle owner can immediately determine the location of the vehicle by software and see the route. Passing on the relevant information to the police will then lead to the arrest of the vehicle thieves and – even more importantly – to the recovery of their own car. The fact that one can intervene at an early stage of the theft in this way also eliminates the need for complicated requests for legal assistance and investigations abroad. The vehicle and the perpetrators can usually still be presented in Germany. Discussions with insurance companies are also unnecessary with this technique, as this usually leads to the perpetrators being caught in flagrante delicto: sitting in their vehicle. The police and insurance companies are happy about anyone who has installed such a technology in their car.
Isn’t such a safety technology for a vehicle with keyless go incredibly expensive?
Many car users shy away from installing anti-theft protection for keyless go vehicles because they are afraid of the incredibly high costs. The only unbelievably high benefit of Swisstrack Pro technology, however, is the price. The price is very moderate in relation to the risk of theft and is only incurred once, see here: SWISSTRACK PRO price info
How does the Swisstrack Pro anti-theft protection system supply itself with energy ?
If you are worried that you will have to laboriously wire your Swisstrack Pro anti-theft device to protect your keyless go car so that power is supplied, you can breathe a sigh of relief: it works with battery/rechargeable technology that allows several months of operation without recharging. So you don’t have to do any complicated wiring or recharge the device in short intervals.
Who can install a Swiss Track Pro in a car as an anti-theft device?
To put it metaphorically: anyone who can put a butter dish on the kitchen table can also attach a Swisstrack Pro to the vehicle. The device has a strong magnet with which it can be attached to all iron/steel parts of the vehicle. Most people use the underside of the vehicle for this purpose. It would also be possible to install it in the engine or trunk, but the most inconspicuous way is to “dock” it to metal on the underside of the vehicle.
Swisstrack Pro also alarms in case of transport on a trailer
Today’s thieves are also becoming increasingly hardened. While in the past a car was stolen at night and in the fog, today one does not even shy away from lifting the object of desire with a tow truck or a crane truck in broad daylight and driving it off. This has already happened several times on Düsseldorf’s magnificent boulevard Königsallee. The car thieves observe the parking of the vehicle and where the driver is going and can then estimate how much time they have to steal the vehicle. If your vehicle then has the Swisstrack Pro tracking system onboard, you will be informed immediately via SMS as soon as the car is exposed to a vibration or moves. This enables the police to intervene very quickly to recover your property.
Swisstrack Pro also puts street café car thieves out of business
Some car thieves use a perfidious method to get hold of stolen vehicles. They sit for hours in a street café on strolling and strolling boulevards and watch – comfortably drinking a cappuccino – the parking traffic on the adjacent street. As soon as someone parks a premium car nearby, a scanner in your jacket pocket or briefcase intercepts the signal from the car keys and vehicle so that later, when the person who parked the car has left, you can calmly get into the car and leave with the stolen car. . Only when he returns to the parking lot after a shopping spree. Then the thief is already far away on the highway or has locked the car somewhere in a garage or a truck.
<However, car owners who have protected their vehicle with a Swisstrack Pro device are immediately alerted if the car is moving. On their smartphone they can then – in a police car or taxi – easily see where their car is going.>/strong>.
Do I need a permit for Swisstrack Pro?
The Swisstrack Pro device, which alarms when the vehicle is moving and informs about where the vehicle is going, can not only be quickly and easily attached to the car – without complicated installation – it is also absolutely legal in Europe to secure and monitor your own vehicle.
Vehicles with Keyless-Go technology are comfortable. There is no need to insert a key into the lock or press a button and yet doors open and close. Pressing a start button in the car is enough to start the car, if I have the keyless-go key with me. This is convenient and practical, but offers a giant gateway for car thieves who use it every day in Germany. The police estimate that more than 10,000 car thefts in Germany every year are due to this technology. Thieves simply use a range extender and open and start the car without damaging the door or lock.
However, this can be protected with little effort: With a small inconspicuous SWISSTRACK PRO box, which is also quickly attached without any technical knowledge, you can prevent your car from getting too far away from you. As soon as your car moves or the car leaves a certain area you have defined, you will receive a message on your mobile phone and can easily track where your car is at any given moment. The police will love it. It has never been easier to hand over the car thieves to the police on display. Use both: The convenient Keyless Go technology for your car keys and a modern SWISSTRACK PRO solution as an “alarm system” and tracking tool for your car. Leave the wrapping of car keys in aluminum foil to others and sit back and relax. Large insurance companies recommend the installation of such tracking tools with alarm function for vehicles with keyless-go technology. With Swisstrack Pro you have one of the most powerful tracking tools on the market on your vehicle and are always a nose ahead of possible thieves.
- If noise is generated, such as when starting the engine
- When the vehicle is moving, such as parking out of your garage
- If the vehicle leaves a defined environment, e.g. more than 100 meters from your house
Does a keyless go owner have to sign a data contract for the Swisstrack Pro backup?
No. The Swisstrack Pro tracking box with alarm function works with a SIM card that does not require monthly payments for data traffic, but works for one year after purchase without any further payment.
Police recommend tracking tools for the vehicle
The police strongly recommend GPS transmitters for vehicles and alarm systems. Harald Schmidt, head of the police crime prevention of the federal states and the federal government, strongly recommends such technology – as well as mechanical fuses. But not everyone wants to attach a parking claw when parking their vehicle, which by the way does not protect against someone taking the vehicle away on a trailer. Probably the person who is informed by his alarm system when the vehicle is removed.