Keyless car theft shock - Test reveals popular cars that can be broken in to in 10 seconds

A SHOCKING new investigation into keyless entry car theft has revealed which popular cars can be broken into in a matter of seconds.

Keyless entry car theft is a growing problem in the UK. Most new cars are being equipped with these entry systems as cars become more sophisticated. Criminals have managed to exploit weaknesses in keyless entry and start systems, according to groundbreaking market intelligence from Britain’s leading consumer champion and new car buying platform, What Car?. Using simple transmitters the crooks can trick the car into thinking a key is present even if it isn’t there. This has lead to a number of reports of motorists having their cars stolen from their driveway in the middle of the night. In 2018, car theft rates in England and Wales reached an eight-year high, with more than 106,000 stolen last year alone. A new investigation into how these systems work has revealed some of the weaknesses.

An exclusive test by What Car? found the new DS3 Crossback Ultra Prestige could be unlocked and started in 10 seconds by thieves using specialist technology. 

The Audi TT RS could also be stolen in 10 seconds - although only when its optional keyless entry system was active and its motion sensor technology had not disabled the keyfob.

The recently replaced Land Rover Discovery Sport could also be stolen in 30 seconds. A total of seven cars, all fitted with keyless entry systems, were tested in the investigation.

Some carmakers now have new technology which can help prevent keyless theft including Audi, BMW, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz. However, if the key is in a pocket or handbag, and the owner is walking around, the car can still be vulnerable.

Car theft

A new investigation into keyless entry car theft found some cars that can be exploited (Image: WHATCAR?)

Jaguar Land Rover has taken a different approach, introducing ultra-wide-band radio technology on some of its latest models, which transmits a wide range of signals from the key, meaning thieves can’t lock onto the signal and fool the vehicle.

What Car?’s security experts couldn’t steal any vehicle with their keyfobs deactivated, but this is not widely available technology yet.

Steve Huntingford, editor of What Car?, said: “It is outrageous that some car makers have introduced keyless entry and start systems without making them anywhere near as secure as the traditional alternatives they’ve replaced.

“It is great news that a small number of brands are taking the problem of car theft seriously, but more needs to be done to improve security, particularly of desirable used models.”

Audi TT RS Roadster

Audi TT RS Roadster (Image: WHATCAR?)

The results of What Car?’s exclusive security test can be found below:

Audi TT RS Roadster

Advanced Key inactive
Get into car: Not possible
Drive Away: Not possible

Advanced Key active
Get into car: 5 seconds
Drive Away: 5 seconds

BMW X3 (2018)

Digital Smart Key inactive
Get into car: Not possible
Drive Away: Not possible

Digital Smart Key active
Get into car: 40 seconds
Drive Away: 20 seconds

DS3 Crossback Ultra Prestige

DS3 Crossback Ultra Prestige (Image: WHATCAR?)

Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta (Image: WHATCAR?)

DS3 Crossback Ultra Prestige

Standard Key
Get into car: 5 seconds
Drive Away: 5 seconds

Ford Fiesta

Sleeping key fob inactive
Get into car: Not possible
Drive Away: Not possible

Sleeping key fob active
Get into car: 40 seconds
Drive Away: 20 seconds

Land Rover Discovery

Land Rover Discovery (Image: WHATCAR?)

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Mercedes-Benz A-Class (Image: WHATCAR?)

Land Rover Discovery

Standard key
Get into car: 20 seconds
Drive Away: Not possible

Land Rover Discovery Sport (2018)

Standard key
Get into car: 10 seconds
Drive Away: 20 seconds

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Keyless-Go key fob inactive
Get into car: Not possible
Drive Away: Not possible

Keyless-Go key fob active
Get into car: 30 seconds
Drive Away: 20 seconds