Nigerian thieves are now smarter than you can imagine. Many of them are now familiar with car technology, as they now use advanced tools to gain access, start engines and steal cars without using physical keys. In this post, we have highlighted 7 tips to avoid car theft without keys in Nigeria.
What is Keyless Car Theft?
Keyless car theft, also known as relay theft, is a way of gaining unauthorized access to a vehicle and stealing it without using the physical key fob.
A key fob is a small control device that car owners can use to control their car from a small distance. They can also use it to lock and unlock without using a physical key.
This is the main reason why car thieves target vehicles that can be unlocked without the key of the owner, or cars that don’t use physical metallic keys (keyless entry and start systems). They will trail and watch the owner park the car and go to sleep or somewhere far and then use their technology to get into the car and drive it away.
How are cars stolen without keys? How does keyless car theft work?
#1. Signal Relaying
Keyless car systems use key fobs, compatible smartphones and RFID cards. These remote-control devices will emit a short-range radio signal that is recognizable by the car.
Once any of the devices (in the possession of the owner) is pressed (usually within a short distance), the car will recognize the signal and allow the doors to be unlocked once one of the door handles is pressed.
Some car thieves’ plant wireless transmitters on the front door of a house, the handbag or the pocket of a car owner to capture the signal from the original digital key and relay it to a target vehicle.
These car thieves will stand near the vehicle to receive the signal and relay it to the car, fooling it into thinking the key is within range, and that will unlock the car. Once the car thief is inside the car, the process can be repeated to start the engine.
#2. Signal Jamming
Remember that we said key fobs use radio frequency to lock and unlock cars. If any other device near the car has the same radio frequency as that of the key fob, it will jam the signal and stop the car from being locked or unlocked at that moment.
Let’s assume you drove to a restaurant and a thief has been trailing you all along. An accomplice has earlier planted a signal jamming device in the place you want to park your vehicle.
You come out and press the lock button on your key fob and then walk away. But you didn’t know the lock button you pressed wasn’t detected by your car, because a thief is jamming the signal. Thus, your car remains unlocked and the thieves are left with an open door.
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#3. Key Programming
Now the thief is inside your car. But how will he/she start the engine and drive it away?
Here’s where you should be careful. Not all cars use physical ignition keys. Some use a start button. Over the years, hackers have improvised devices that can be plugged into a port in your car, boot up its software and then program a blank key fob.
#4. Close-Range Testing
After being unlocked, some cars using keyless systems require the key fob to be inside the car before the engine will start.
In that case, a car thief can’t start your engine even if he/she manages to unlock the doors and enter. But there’s a way. They may employ the services of a burglar to sneak into your house and steal the key, or hire a pickpocket to swipe the key from your body.
#5. App Hacking
This method is rarely used in Nigeria. As of the time of writing this article, not many Nigerian car owners use their smartphones to unlock their cars. However, we (AB Drives) will leave no stone unturned, as this system may become popular in the years to come.
Apps that allow drivers to unlock their cars can let thieves do the same thing on their own smartphones if they can log in to the app as the vehicle’s owner. The only thing they need is the login details which can be easily gotten if the owner is careless (or talks too much in public).
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7 Tips to Avoid Car Theft Without Keys in Nigeria
Now that you know the possible ways through which your car can be stolen, you can prevent that by practicing measures that will make it impossible for each car theft method to be used against you.
#1. Always confirm
And never leave any stone unturned. Whenever you park your vehicle, check if the indicator flashes (if you have such a system). You should also listen to the lock sound to confirm it’s locked.
Another habit you should develop as a car owner is to always confirm by touching the door handles.
#2. Block your car key signal
This will prevent your car from being stolen through the signal relaying method. Find and set up a safe place to keep your car keys at home or work. You can find a tight aluminum box and always store your key fobs in there.
That way, your key fob signals are shielded from relay capture.
#3. Steering Wheel Lock
Necessity is the mother of invention. If you must go “old school,” then you should go “old school”. Buy steering wheel locks that will make it impossible for thieves to drive away, even if they manage to unlock your car and start the engine.
#4. Install GPS Tracking Devices
All modern cars now come with GPS installed. If yours doesn’t come with GPS, you can always buy one and strap it somewhere in your car.
Don’t tell anyone where your GPS is planted, because thieves may scan for, detect and remove it to cover their tracks after your car has been stolen.
Note that a GPS should not be your top priority, as it doesn’t prevent theft. It’s only a Plan B in case your car eventually gets stolen.
#5. Monitor the key fob itself
If your key fob has an option to switch it off, then you should fully utilize it. Aside from saving the battery, it will step up your security and reduce the chances of having a car theft.
Also, some key fobs have motion sensors. They will automatically hibernate your key fobs if they’re left idle for like 5 minutes. Once you pick them up, motion is detected and they’re automatically switched on.
#6. Don’t forget CCTV
Just like GPS trackers, CCTV isn’t really a preventive measure (unless you can stay awake 24/7 and watch your CCTV monitor day and night.
CCTVs may come in handy if your car eventually gets stolen. But that’s only if the suspect is recognized. If not, it will just be useless evidence.
Nevertheless, you should have them installed. A CCTV camera that’s not even working anymore can still protect you from car thefts. Petty thieves will steer clear, as they don’t want to be caught on camera while stealing your car.
#7. Shine your eyes
There are two tips to this.
- Tip 1: You’re in Nigeria
- Tip 2: Don’t forget the first rule
Regardless of how careful you are, you can always be a victim. Depending on the market price and popularity of your car, avoid travelling through dangerous routes and don’t park your car in places where potential thieves reside.
Always look outside of your home/office windows at intervals. If you’re in a restaurant (that has transparent walls and windows), you should always sit in a place where you can see your car from afar off.
Wrapping Up: 7 Tips to Avoid Car Theft Without Keys in Nigeria
As we all know, a lot of Nigerians are desperate due to the unemployment rate and the overall economic situation. Even if car thieves can’t steal your car, they can steal the battery and other spare parts.
Many of us have heard funny stories of car thefts on social media and even joked about it. While it may seem funny, most car owners don’t usually forget about the bitter experience.
Don’t reside in a neighborhood where burglary and thefts are common. Try and have your house fenced with barbed wires. Get a steering wheel lock, GPS trackers and CCTV cameras.
And don’t forget that thieves behave like business owners. They’re practical and calculative. They only approach easy targets and if you look invulnerable, they will always keep their distance.