Fight Keyless Car Thefts With Security Incentives, Insurers Told

A wave of thefts of keyless operated vehicles in the UK has brought calls for insurers to offer greater incentives for consumers using after-market security devices.

Latest figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) reveal that its members paid out £108M ($136M) in stolen vehicle claims in the first quarter of this year, a 22% increase on the same period last year. Now vehicle security specialist Tracker is urging insurers to offer car owners premium discounts for fitting additional security devices not prone hacking by high-tech criminals. Figures from the UK’s Home Office record a 50% rise in vehicle thefts over the last five years, which it says is in part being driven by keyless car crime.

Vehicles fitted with keyless entry systems have increasingly been targeted by thieves employing a devices that can intercept a key’s digital signal. They can then activate a car key fob remotely, fooling the system into unlocking the doors and starting the engine. In some cases their signal scanners can even pick up the keyless system’s code from a fob left inside the owner’s house.

Laurenz Gerger, ABI’s motor insurance policy adviser said: “The continued growth in car crime must be reversed. Car security has come on leaps and bounds but needs to keep pace with the ingenuity of car criminals. The rising number of theft claims being paid by insurers in part reflects the vulnerability of some cars to keyless relay theft. Action by motor manufacturers to tackle this high-tech vulnerability, allied with owners taking some simple, inexpensive precautions will help put the brakes on this unwelcome trend.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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