The video below shows how a crew of two can easily get inside, start, and drive away in a very expensive Rolls-Royce Cullinan. That has not happened because the iconic BMW-owned British brand skimped on security measures. They could have thought of a better way to protect customers from losing their posh vehicles so easily, but it would have been incredibly complicated to figure out a solution that just worked. Thieves are very motivated to find something that works in their favor. There's little that can stop them.
Another video shows the same thing happening with a BMW X6 (F16). There's no known vulnerability with the Bavarian company's security systems. The thieves simply use something known as a "relay attack." The pair use two devices that can communicate with the vehicle's key fob and amplify its signal to trick the car into thinking it's the rightful owner getting access.
Tesla implemented a simple feature that deters thieves from trying to steal its EVs: PIN to drive. You don't just have to confirm with a key fob or a phone app that it's your car when entering the vehicle; you must also know the code that pops up on the infotainment screen. Teslas also display the number pad in different locations on the screen, so the thief can't guess the code based on your fingerprints.
Since cars encompass many computers nowadays and virtually no implementation is safe from hackers, almost any vehicle can be stolen with the right tool.
If you think thieves might really want your car, you can temporarily ditch the advantages of keyless access altogether. These devices can also intercept the unlock signal sequence, store it, and use it when the vehicle is in the driveway and you're sound asleep.
All this is a huge issue in the UK, where major insurers currently refuse to provide coverage for models manufactured by brands like Land Rover. The phenomenon is also spreading to the US, and social media plays a key role. Talk to a Hyundai or Kia owner about how a TikTok trend made them think twice about parking on the street.
But there's a silver lining. Automakers aren't giving up easily. Kia and Hyundai, for example, updated their vehicles' security systems. Admittedly, it happened after the issue got a bit out of control.
Ford has also taken notice and came up with a patended solution against this problem. However, it's unclear when it will be actually put to good use.
Still, we expect brands like BMW or Rolls-Royce to develop new ways to enhance their cars' lock and unlock features. But until they do, keep your key fob stored properly or park somewhere safe.