Eight Types of Vehicle Theft and How You Can Prevent Them

Car theft is a common problem, one that every car owner dreads. Forewarned is forearmed – once you know about the different types of vehicle theft, you can begin to counter them.

Hanoi Theft

This type of theft takes its name from the police initiative that was instituted in order to counter it. It is the most common type of theft seen throughout the north of England, as well as in Scotland and North Wales. Criminals will break into a victim’s property and steal the keys for their car while inside.

In order to prevent this type of theft, make sure that you keep your home locked and secured and don’t leave your car keys out in the open.

Turbo Decoder

A turbo decoder is a device used to break into cars with a manual door lock. This device is kind of like a universal skeleton key, able to manipulate the internal components of a locking mechanism and replicate what the key would do if it were present. Turbo decoders can be purchased by anyone and are used by professional locksmiths.

The best way of defending against this kind of theft is to employ multiple layers of security and combine different methods of deterrence. It is worth investing in an immobiliser and tracking system.

Relay Attack

Relay attacks are mostly carried out against cars but have also been known to target vans. Any vehicle that utilises keyless technology can be targeted by a relay attack. In order to carry out the attack, criminals combine a relay transmitter and an amplifier in order to make nearby cars believe that the key for them is in range. This is enough to make many vehicles unlock and start.

Some keys now have technology built in to mitigate this kind of attack. If your keys have a sleep or idle mode, then you should be safe. However, simply placing your keys in a metal box when not in use will prevent their signal from being hijacked.

Transponder Key Cloning

This attack is simple – the victim’s keys are stolen and cloned. Blank keys can be purchased online and it is relatively easy to reproduce another key. The original key can even be returned to cover their tracks.

This attack usually begins with a seemingly legitimate business gaining access to keys. Make sure that you only hand your car keys to businesses that you trust

On-Board Diagnostics Compromise

OBD systems contain a lot of information about a vehicle and are used by technicians to diagnose issues. Criminals who gain access to this system can download information and create a duplicate key for it.

The best way of securing against this attack is to employ multiple redundancies, such as steering wheel locks.

Electronic Control Unit Replacement

The ECU is similar to the OBD, as in it is an onboard computer system. Like the OBD, this can be exploited by thieves who gain access to the system.

Staying safe from this kind of theft requires multiple physical redundancies. If you can keep the vehicle enclosed in a garage or secure parking area, do so.

Key Code Grab

Criminals can capture the electronic signals sent from victims’ key fobs when they unlock their vehicles. Once they have the code, they can lock and unlock the vehicle.

Again, all you can do to protect yourself is to put physical barriers in the way of the criminals.

GPS Jamming

This type of attack can only be executed against vehicles that have a GPS tracker installed. Criminals use jamming devices to confuse the GPS tracker and make the vehicle impossible to track.

To get around this, use a non-GPS based tracking system. The most common GPS alternative is VHF.

Adding steering wheel locks and other physical security in addition to whatever features your car comes with will keep it as safe as possible. Once you know the thieves’ methods, you can counter them.

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