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How do I prevent keyless car theft?

Some keyless cars are easier to steal without added security in place.

As keyless-entry cars become more popular on the road, news stories have surfaced finding many car models are more susceptible to a simple type of theft using cheap technology. But there are several safety precautions you can take to help prevent your keyless car from becoming an easy target.

Are keyless-entry cars easier to steal?

It depends on the manufacturer and model. Some research companies have listed hundreds of keyless car models with a higher potential for theft. However, there’s little data showing that US keyless-entry cars get stolen more often overall.

For example, multiple car models named on the 2019 Highway Loss Data Institute’s most stolen cars list happen to be keyless-entry models. Those include the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, Dodge Charger HEMI, Infiniti Q50 four-door and Infiniti QX80.

However, not all keyless-entry cars show high theft rates. The Lincoln MKS comes standard with this feature but sees a theft range from .80 to 1.50 per 100,000 cars made, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The 2014 Toyota Prius also comes standard with keyless entry and has a theft rate of .37 per 100,000 cars. The median for all cars is around 3.60 cars.

Why are keyless cars less secure than other cars?

Many car models are susceptible to theft using a simple signal relaying device that extends the signal of your keyless fob. The extended signal can be used to unlock your car, and the process can be repeated to start the ignition. However, there’s little information on whether these cars are being stolen more often across all keyless-entry models, as of June 2, 2020.

How to prevent keyless car theft

To help prevent thieves from lifting your car, choose from several options:

  • Faraday pouch. These pouches prevent wireless satellite, Bluetooth, cell phone or Wi-Fi signals from connecting with any device inside the bag.
  • Off switch. If your key fob has a manual switch, turning it off can keep devices from tapping your fob’s signal
  • Antitheft or GPS tracking. Install a car alarm and GPS tracking device if your car doesn’t already have them installed.
  • Steering wheel lock. The visible lock attaches to your steering wheel and prevents the wheel from turning. Although an experienced thief could break through, it would take extra time and effort to do so, so acts as theft prevention.
  • Switch to a standard key. Standard car keys without the keyless entry option are usually cheaper in addition to being harder to trick.

Does car insurance cover keyless car theft?

Yes, insurance covers car theft if you buy comprehensive coverage. The add-on protects your car for theft, vandalism, storm damage and other noncollision accidents.

To file a claim after a theft, you’ll need to report the situation to the police. Get a copy of the police report, then file a claim with your car insurance company. An insurance adjuster may schedule a meeting to go over details of the theft.

If the claim gets approved and your car’s not recovered, you’ll receive a settlement offer to cover your car’s actual cash value. Either accept the offer or negotiate the amount if you feel your car is worth more. The entire process could take several weeks, so you may need another car — like a rental — in the meantime.

What types of theft does car insurance cover?

Comprehensive coverage can kick in for these burglary situations:

  • Keyless car theft
  • Stolen car parts
  • Damage to a recovered car
  • Damaged parts due to a break-in

Does car insurance cost more for keyless cars?

Your car insurance premium could cost more if insurance companies saw an increased theft rate for your car model.

However, many of these cars have similar theft rates as cars with manual keys. In these cases, expect the rates to stick to the national average, which is around $1,300 per year or $108 per month.

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Bottom line

Although not all keyless cars show high theft rates, you should to protect yours in any way possible. Along with antitheft security, consider which car insurance companies offer the best comprehensive coverage available.

Frequently asked questions

What types of keyless cars are not prone to theft?
Keyless cars with technology that stops the encrypted radio signal from transmitting between ignition and key fob are more secure than those without this technology. For example, new BMWs, Ford Focuses and Ford Fiestas have motion sensors in the key fob that prevent transmitting the signal if the fob hasn’t moved.

Which keyless car models have the worst security?
Several examples of keyless cars with poor security are the DS3 Crossback, Toyota Rav4, Mazda 3 and Volvo V60. These cars received low ratings from Thatcham Research, a United Kingdom company that researches different cars’ safety and security.

What are car theft rates doing in the United States?
Car theft has gradually decreased in the US over the last few years. The number of vehicles stolen in 2018 decreased by 3% over the number stolen in 2017, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

However, cars stolen with the keys inside have risen over 50% in 2016 to 2018 compared to the time period between 2013 and 2015. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported this trend.

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