On the Radar – Which Keyless Cars Are Most Stolen in the US?

In a world where technology reigns supreme, our beloved four-wheelers have joined the digital revolution. We’ve bid farewell to the clunky key-in-the-door routine, but with great convenience comes a mischievous few who seek to exploit it – but which keyless cars are most stolen in the US? Buckle up and get ready for an eye-opening ride!

Certain car models, such as luxury vehicles and those with outdated keyless systems, can be more frequently targeted by thieves. However, there are some make or models that are common victims of this crime simply due to their popularity – these are the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf, Nissan Qashqai, and Ford Focus. So, let’s deep dive into what makes these four-wheelers such magnets for trouble. 

What Is Keyless Car Theft?

Whether your car is a shiny new model straight from the showroom or a trusty used vehicle that has weathered countless adventures on famous routes in the US, the sinking feeling of discovering it has been stolen is universally disheartening. No matter the make, the price tag, or the sentimental value, having your four-wheeled pride and joy vanish into the hands of thieves is a bitter pill to swallow. 

Not even keyless entry systems on our modern vehicles are exempt from the crafty hands of these criminals. While they’re the product of car evolution, they have also introduced new vulnerabilities. So, it’s crucial to stay informed and take necessary precautions

What Do Statistics Say About Keyless Theft?

In recent years, there’s been a curious development in the world of crime – while other felonies fell in number, vehicle thefts have been on a steady rise, with locations such as Chicago even doubling in numbers for the year 2022. 

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), just over one million vehicles were stolen last year, which means 1.9 cars are being stolen every minute. And more and more of these forgotten four-wheelers have keyless ignition, which begs the question – what makes this advanced technology so convenient for criminals to bypass? 

How Does Keyless Theft Work?

There are a couple of commonly used methods for keyless entry theft, often referred to as relay theft. Most of the time, thieves use specialized devices called relay boxes or amplifiers to capture the signal emitted by a key fob inside the owner’s home. 

This signal is then relayed to a second device held near the targeted vehicle, tricking the car’s system into recognizing the key’s presence, allowing thieves to gain entry and start the vehicle without needing the physical key. Obviously, this method of theft is particularly concerning because it doesn’t require any forced entry or visible signs of tampering, making it difficult to detect and prevent. So, let’s take a look at the most common four-wheeled victims of these sophisticated attacks. 

Car remote control by smart key, Hand holding smart key to lock doors of white car
Key or not, there are techniques that can get your trusted ride stolen in seconds

Which Keyless Cars Are Most Stolen – Top Models That Are Likely to Fall Victim to Theft

Unfortunately, some car models are more frequently targeted than others. Factors such as popularity, desirability, and ease of theft play a role in determining which models attract unwanted attention, no matter if they’re spacious family vehicles or small city cars

However, it’s important to note that the landscape of frequently targeted models can evolve as manufacturers enhance security measures and thieves adapt their techniques. Therefore, staying informed about the latest trends and taking necessary precautions can help car owners to protect their prized ride, regardless of the make and model. 

Here are the less-than-fortunate four-wheelers that are frequently getting targeted.

Ford Fiesta

A common sight on US roads, this popular compact car has earned its place as a beloved and convenient choice for drivers of all experience levels. Known for its agile handling, fuel efficiency, and affordable price tag, the Fiesta has definitely carved a niche for itself in the market. 

However, Ford has recently indicated that they might stop producing these reliable four-wheelers, which usually results in increased prices of vehicle parts. This, along with the simple fact that there are plenty of them on the roads, could explain why this four-wheeler might be at higher risk from thieves. Steering wheel locks or Faraday pouches usually do the trick in protecting these vehicles, but more on that later.

Volkswagen Golf

You don’t have to be a dedicated gearhead to know that the Volkswagen Golf is a legendary compact car that’s renowned for its solid build quality, refined driving dynamics, and versatile nature, becoming an icon in its class. Its timeless design that strikes a perfect balance between sophistication and practicality is definitely what makes this four-wheeler so attractive to drivers around the world. 

Unfortunately, the Volkswagen Golf is equally alluring to criminals looking for a quick buck. It’s more or less the same situation as with the Ford Fiesta – the manufacturer is slowing down its production to focus on other models, especially electric vehicles, increasing the value of Golf’s internal parts.

Nissan Qashqai 

The Nissan Qashqai is a popular crossover SUV that has gained recognition for its stylish design, versatility, and practicality. With sleek lines and an athletic stance, the Qashqai exudes a modern and confident presence on the road. Impressive features and an affordable price make this particular four-wheeler quite popular among drivers, and not just the brand-new model years but the previous versions as well. 

Inside, the Qashqai offers a spacious and comfortable cabin equipped with advanced features and technology to enhance the driving experience. Unfortunately, this technology can also be a vulnerable point that makes it so alluring to thieves. Add this SUV’s overall popularity to the mix, and you’ve got a popular target for thieves all across the country.

Ford Focus

The Ford Focus is a versatile and practical compact vehicle that has a sleek and aerodynamic design, exuding a modern and sporty presence on the road. Inside, it offers a comfortable and well-designed cabin that maximizes both space and functionality, but the technology that comprises the inner workings of this convenient four-wheeler is pretty easy to bypass by experienced criminals. 

Because of that, recent model years of the Ford Focus are equipped with advanced safety features and technology, providing you with peace of mind on every journey. However, the widespread demand for this versatile city ride still perseveres, making this particular model one of the most commonly targeted keyless vehicles in the US and worldwide.

What Factors Contribute to Theft Risk?

As you can gather by now, weaknesses in security features can pose vulnerabilities that are easily taken advantage of by people looking to earn a quick buck from your prized ride. These weaknesses can vary depending on the specific model, and some vehicles may even lack advanced security features such as alarm systems or tracking devices, leaving them more susceptible to theft. 

To put all of it in one place, here are some factors that could indicate you’re riding around a magnet for trouble:

  • Lack of signal encryption – makes the keyless entry system vulnerable to signal interception and cloning, 
  • Signal relay attacks – advanced relay devices can be used to capture and amplify signals emitted by the key fob, granting easy access to the vehicle, 
  • Weak keyless system security – weak security measures or outdated technology can make entering your ride a piece of cake for experienced criminals, 
  • Popular and high-value models – very popular vehicles or those that have a high market value may attract more attention from thieves, as they can be more profitable targets for theft or resale, 
  • Inadequate security measures – vehicles without additional security features such as steering wheel locks, immobilizers, or GPS tracking systems are more vulnerable to theft, 
  • Poor parking and storage practices – leaving the car in unsecured areas, such as dimly lit or isolated parking lots, or not properly securing the vehicle when parked at home, can make it an easier target for theft, 
  • Regional hotspots – certain areas or regions may have higher rates of car theft or a higher prevalence of organized theft rings, increasing the overall risk of falling victim to these criminals, 
  • Insufficient manufacturer response – if the car manufacturer has not taken proactive measures to address keyless entry vulnerabilities or provide firmware/software updates to enhance security, it can leave the vehicle more exposed to theft. 

Improving the Safety of Keyless Vehicles Is One of the Most Important Tasks of the Industry

It’s challenging to always stay ahead of evolving hacking techniques employed by the most sophisticated of thieves. As criminals become more adept at exploiting vulnerabilities, it becomes crucial to continuously enhance encryption algorithms and security protocols to counter these threats effectively. 

Moreover, the coordination required among different stakeholders, including manufacturers, security experts, and regulatory bodies, presents a challenge in establishing standardized security practices across the industry. It will be no easy task to overcome these challenges, but ongoing research, collaboration, and innovation can ensure that keyless vehicle security keeps pace with the ones trying to exploit it. 

A street with parked cars
The industry needs to stay one step ahead of these safety threats

What Are the Strategies to Protect Keyless Cars?

There are a couple of effective ways to minimize the chances of your trusty ride falling victim to these dishonorable acts. One of the commonly used methods is having a steering wheel lock to immobilize the vehicle, preventing unauthorized use of the car. High-quality safety locks such as FLK Tech Universal Anti-Theft Steering Wheel Lock are easy to install and remove, making them a convenient way to provide additional protection for your four-wheeler. 

Another effective safety method is using a Faraday pouch, a specially designed bag that blocks electromagnetic signals and therefore creates a shield protecting electronic devices, such as key fobs or smartphones, from unauthorized access. Once placed inside the pouch, the device is effectively isolated from external electromagnetic signals, preventing communication with the outside world. 

Make Sure You Regularly Update the Software on Your Vehicle

Regularly updating software and firmware is crucial to address any security vulnerabilities of your keyless vehicle, as they can be discovered over time as technology evolves and hackers find new ways to exploit them. By regularly updating these systems, manufacturers can proactively address emerging threats, improve encryption algorithms, and implement additional security measures to protect against unauthorized access and potential theft. 

Car thief using a tool to break into a car
Gone are the days of old-school stealing – not even your keyless four-wheeler is safe

When You Know Which Keyless Cars Are Most Stolen, It Will Be Easier to Protect Your Ride

While keyless vehicles may offer convenience at the push of a button, they can also become the subject of a crafty disappearing act by determined thieves. From relay devices to signal interception, these clever culprits are always finding new ways to outsmart the latest technology. So, remember to stay one step ahead and secure your trusted ride with additional measures to keep the wheels spinning with peace of mind.