How car thieves could be hacking into your car's electrics

Imagine you walk out to your car in the morning, and it's been ransacked – thieves have gained access to the interior and stripped it of valuables: sat-navs, personal trinkets, loose change. But the car itself is untouched, with no signs of forced entry.

Burglaries like this are becoming more commonplace, and it's all down to modern cars' sophisticated keyless entry systems. Thieves can intercept the signal from a car's key, and boost or recreate it using special radio frequency emitters – allowing them to open the doors and help themselves to whatever's inside.

How can you protect yourself from these crooks? Unfortunately, there's not a lot you can do. The first and most important is to make sure your car is as up-to-date as possible. Modern vehicles need updates and bug fixes just like any computer, so it's important to keep your car in regular contact with the manufacturer to make sure it has the most recent version of its software installed.

When you're at home, your car is still at risk of being broken into on your driveway – but you can block the radio frequencies by storing your key in a metal box or specially designed pouch. It's also best to turn off Bluetooth and WiFi if they're fitted, as these systems can provide an easy route for hackers.

Finally, if you're worried about thieves taking your entire car rather than just the contents, there are very few alternatives to an old-fashioned steering-wheel lock. A full-face model like a Disklok is best, and provides the ultimate deterrent to a would-be car thief.

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