Cars with keyless entry are increasingly becoming a target for thieves – with one model particularly at risk, experts warn.
As new vehicles have moved away from traditional keys in favor of electronic fobs or ‘smart keys’, crooks are breaching the systems built into the cars’ communication network.
And according to the latest report from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is 60 times more likely to be targeted than any other model built between 2020 and 2022.
‘If you own a Hellcat, you better check your driveway,’ said Matt Moore, HLDI senior vice president. ‘These numbers are unbelievable.’
Car theft in general is also surging across the US. More than a million vehicles were stolen last year, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau – the highest number since 2008.
According to the latest report from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is 60 times more likely to be targeted than any other model built between 2020 and 2022
Theft claims for the Charger SRT Hellcat, which starts at around $80,000, were more than 60 times more frequent than the average for all 2020-22 models, relative to their numbers on the road, according to HLDI.
The report found 25 cars had been reported stolen in insurance claims out of every 1,000 insured vehicle years.
By comparison, the most stolen car among 2017-19 model year vehicles, the Infiniti Q60, only had two theft claims for every 1,000 insured vehicle years.
Experts warn that criminals utilize various methods to hack into cars.
One method is known as a ‘relay attack’ – where thieves are essentially adding an invisible extension cord to a key fob.
Thieves will hack into the signal produced by a key fob inside a house and relay it to a second device being held close to the car door.
The car is then tricked into thinking that the key is close to the door, and the criminals are able to open the vehicle and drive away – all in a matter of minutes.
Experts are also warning of a new method known as the ‘CAN bus attack.’
Experts warn that criminals utilize various methods to hack into cars – including the so-called ‘relay attack’
‘CAN’ stands for ‘controller area network,’ and the ‘CAN bus’ is the auto industry term used to describe the message-based electronic system that allows parts of the car to communicate with each other.
Steve Lobello, owner of S&A Security near Chicago, told CBS: ‘Probably the most common one that I do see is actual key programmers that you can just plug into the vehicle’s diagnostic port or onto the CAN bus network.’
‘It’s basically the nervous center in the vehicle where everything has to process. You can pretty much do things such as delete keys, program, new keys, and just basically speak to the vehicle,’ he told the outlet.
According to Lobello, the tablets that locksmiths and security specialists use to reprogram key fobs have been stolen or can be bought online legally by thieves.
As new vehicles have moved away from traditional keys in favor of electronic fobs or ‘smart keys’, crooks are breaching the systems built into the cars’ communication network
There are simple steps that drives can take to help protect them from ‘carhacking’ – which makes little noise and leaves behind no broken glass as evidence a crime has even taken place.
Daniel Armbruster, from the AAA, told CBS Austin: ‘Don’t leave your key fob in an area near the front door.
‘When you’re at home, store your car keys or fob in a metal cabinet or with some sort of device that protects the radio signal from being intercepted.’
Park your car in a closed garage if possible, and never leave valuable items in your vehicle.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau recommends a ‘layered approach,’ which involves adding physical protection like steering column locks, alarms and tracking devices.