Car locksmiths are coming across stories about thieves jamming car central locking and alarm systems – leaving cars open when drivers think they’re locked.
Car key ‘jammers’ can be bought online, although they are intended for use by a professional car locksmith or motor engineer, not thieves. They interrupt the radio signals used by car locking and alarm systems, preventing the car from locking properly.
The idea is that people walk away from their cars, pressing the button as usual, assuming the lock has worked. But if someone with a jammer is within range, the locking system won’t engage, leaving the doors unlocked and the car vulnerable to being ransacked.
Car park care
Even low-cost jammers have a range of about 75m, so thieves can be watching from a corner of a car park, waiting for people to leave their cars. They then go round the recent arrivals, looking for cars that haven’t locked properly.
Your car isn’t necessarily going to be driven away unless the thieves have gone the extra mile and obtained tools to clone the key or keycard. But everything inside will be at the mercy of the thieves.
Is this a real fear?
Many of the scare stories about technology doing the rounds on social media are hoaxes so there is often uncertainty as to what you should believe.
This story began appearing in various UK newspapers during 2016, culminating in December after a spate of thefts from cars and lorries at M4 service stations.
They backed their report with statements from the police that the Vehicle Crime Intelligence Unit was working with manufacturers to find ways to combat this new threat.
The problem isn’t just about losing your stuff – you might not get compensated by your insurance company if there’s no sign of forced entry. They’ll presume that the car driver has forgotten to lock the car and in those instances, most policies will not accept claims.
What can you do?
Advice from the police is to try not to leave valuables in your car at all. If you absolutely have to, put them in a locking glove compartment if you have one, as central unlocking systems don’t usually unlock these.
The main defence against this method of attack is to make sure your car has locked properly. Wait for the flashing lights or tell-tale beep and if you are close enough, you can hear the locks clunking down.