Combatting key relay theft

In the past few years, vehicle theft has been on the rise, one reason for this is the increasing popularity of ‘keyless start’ systems on cars.
An investigation that tested keyless car systems on 237 models revealed that only three models were able to fully resist key signal cloning, leaving many models vulnerable to relay theft.

Keyless Systems

Almost all cars with keyless entry and go systems are vulnerable to so-called ‘relay’ attacks, according to the investigation.
Technicians selected 237 cars with keyless entry and found 230 were susceptible to attacks where a potential thief could unlock and start the car without having the actual key.
Relay theft attacks exploits vulnerabilities in the signals transmitted by wireless keys, which are typically sending a weak signal for their respective cars to recognise. By scanning for and then amplifying these signals, thieves are able to convince the car the key is nearby, gain access and drive off with the vehicle.

What is key relay theft?

Keyless car theft or ‘relay theft’ is when a device is used to fool the car into thinking the key is close by. This unlocks the car and starts the ignition.
First criminals obtain the necessary equipment on darker regions of the internet to buy the relay amplifiers and relay transmitters needed to make the steal.
Next, they’ll target houses with desirable cars parked outside, and use their gadgets to see if they can detect whether the vehicle uses a keyless entry and start system.
Working in pairs, one thief will stand by the car with the transmitter while a second carries the amplifier around the perimeter of the house. If the key is close enough, the amplifier will be able to boost its signal and direct it to the transmitter. This can then give them access to the vehicle for them to drive off.

How to prevent key relay theft?

Key Cloning Protection

Our S5 system comes with a driver tag that protects against key theft and cloning. If the engine is started and the driver tag is not present then it will alert our monitoring team so we can confirm the theft and start the recovery of the vehicle.

X-Series Immobiliser

Our X-Series prevents key relay theft. Thieves use specialist key cloning and key coding devices to steal vehicles making any keyless vehicle very vulnerable and can be taken in 30 seconds or less. Scorpion X combats this with the latest technology and is uniquely coded to your vehicle and can be removed and refitted to your next purchase.


If you’re interested in vehicle security, but not sure where to start, please use the contact form below to arrange a call with one of our security experts and a member of our team will call you to discuss the different options available. 

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