Car Theft Is On The Rise: Top Methods You Need to Look Out For

Expensive car on display

AUTHOR’s Anti-theft Systems

Release Date

Thursday, December 21, 2023


According to insurance companies, in 2023, car theft figures worldwide increased year-on-year. Traditionally, thieves prefer the most popular cars and those whose spare parts enjoy high demand.

Noteworthy, the thieves are also armed with devices that read the door closure signal within 30 seconds to clone the native key. They are expensive but efficient, so they enable the thieves to work alone. The keyless access feature is now popular, including among Korean cars. This method is based on retransmission of the standard key signal.

Relay Attack

Perhaps this is the most popular way to steal a car in the digital age. The ability to get their hands on the car without noise and dust has given the car thieves an incentive to master digital gadgets. A code grabber looks just like a standard keyfob while its operating principle is quite simple. When the owner arms the car, the criminal intercepts the radio signal and then retransmits it to unlock the car. Even the most primitive grabber can beat the standard alarm system. A higher price makes it even more functional, so it not only reads the code but also detects additional security systems and suppresses signals of GPS trackers that can locate a stolen car.

Key reprogramming

Professional thieves can easily bypass an immobilizer that requires the standard key at the start of engine. The same car makes operate as per similar schemes, so black markets offer "starters" for cars of almost any make. One can connect such a tool to the standard diagnostic port or CAN bus. Sophisticated devices can read immobilizer PIN codes and reprogram embedded transponders. There is also an alternative method — to duplicate some pre-installed modules. It'll take an experienced thief merely a minute and a half to replace a native electronic control unit, safety module or an ignition lock reader with external ones, and easily start the car without having a native key at hand.

The thief may also obtain the alarm key or keyfob in advance. This may happen due to collusion among service center employees or car dealers. Expensive cars are often stolen right on the day of purchase before the new car owner has replaced the standard security system with a more reliable one. If you get your car straight from a carwash or service center where it has stayed unattended for a long time, you’d better check the entire car. Criminals can disable the engine blocking feature in advance or change the location of emergency hood opening cables. Besides, they can "register" a new keyfob and key, so the entire security system accepts them.

Mechanical break-in

That's just like in GTA: break the side window, twist the wires, and here we go! Well, breaking the lock and turning off the standard alarm under the hood would also work. This method was used by grandfathers of modern thieves, but it still works. However, even this method does not stand still. On the black market, you can find a variety of tools that range from primitive twists and turns up to decoder master keys and so-called bump guns for PIN locks. The cure against this method is to strengthen car security.

Carjacking and key theft

That's the simplest and most brutal method — force the owner to give up the car or keys by force or intimidation. The thieves often work in tandem with pickpockets. Typically, such tandems trade in large shopping centers equipped with street parking lots. If the criminals manage to secure a keyfob paired with the immobilizer right at the entrance, they'll have plenty of time to drive away.

Still, AUTHOR anti-theft systems are always here to protect your car against any — even the most brutal — theft methods.

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