Photo: Antoine Joubert
Keyless technology has many advantages. You don’t have to scramble for your keys in your pocket, and it lets you start your vehicle at the push of a button, among other perks. However, like anything electronic that emits a signal, key fobs are vulnerable to hacking. And while thieves used to rip apart the steering column to jump wires or jam Philips screwdrivers in ignition barrels, stealing a car is more of an over-the-air affair in the current automotive era.
That’s what four Ram pickup truck owners learned this morning in Fergus, Ontario when they walked out of their homes to empty driveways.
The modern car thief use what is commonly referred to as a relay attack to intercept the signal emitted by the key fob and match it with another device to unlock a vehicle, basically ‘copying’ the key fob. This enables them to drive away with the vehicle without breaking windows, forcing locks and sounding alarms.
#WellingtonOPP investigating thft of 4 Dodge Ram 1500 trucks from #Fergus @CentrWellington occurred between 4-5 a.m. Aug 28. ’22 Dodge Ram 1500 Grey Sport, Silver Big Horn, Silver Sport and a ’21 Black Sport stolen from residences. Contact OPP or @CSGWtips with any info. pic.twitter.com/irjOFCat7D
— OPP West Region (@OPP_WR) August 28, 2022
The signal can be intercepted at all times, because modern key fobs are always emitting it. And if your keys are hanging on a key hook by the door, in your jacket pocket in the closet next to the door, it might just be in a prime location for thieves.
CTV News Kitchener reports that the owners of the four trucks — a 2022 Ram 1500 Grey Sport, Silver Big Horn, Silver Sport, and 2021 Black Sport – most likely had their key fobs in vulnerable locations near points of entry, such as the front door or garage.
It is possible to block the signal from your key fob by storing it in a protective pouch or box that blocks the small devices’ outgoing signal.