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Don’t Panic: How to Handle Stolen Car Keys

Manufacturers of vehicles are constantly working on new and innovative ways to improve the security of cars. This is excellent news for drivers as it makes it increasingly difficult for criminals to break into and steal vehicles.

One such security measure is an immobiliser system. All vehicles produced in Europe after 1995 have a built-in immobiliser that is activated by the car key. This implies that only a correctly programmed key can initiate the vehicle, making hot wiring almost impossible for most car models.

However, does this mean that stealing cars has become a thing of the past? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Thieves are now employing more sophisticated tactics and stealing car keys to gain access to vehicles, thus making it essential to keep your car keys safe at all times.


Related Reading: Top Tips On How To Prevent Car Theft


What To Do If Your Keys Have Been Stolen

If your car keys have been stolen, it’s important to take swift action to prevent the thieves from coming back and taking your car. One option is to open the bonnet with another key and remove spark plugs or fuses to immobilise the vehicle. If possible, you should also consider blocking the car in with another vehicle to make it harder to steal. 

You should immediately contact the police and report the crime, ensuring that you obtain a crime reference number for future reference. This can help you stay updated on any progress with the investigation.

The next step is to call an auto locksmith, who can help even if you have another set of keys. An auto locksmith can deprogram most keys, making it impossible to start the vehicle. To do this, they will plug a diagnostic machine into your car and remove all programmed keys and de-synch remote locking fobs. In some cases, a new key can be made to fit your existing locks and start the car. If necessary, the locksmith can also change the locks so that the mechanical key will no longer turn in the ignition and door locks. Please note that this is more expensive than just replacing the key and is not always necessary.

While waiting for the auto locksmith engineer to arrive, it’s a good idea to contact your insurance provider. Some insurance companies include key protection as part of their cover and may contribute towards the cost. It’s important to check with your insurer as they may request a full lock change. Taking these steps can help you to secure your stolen car keys and prevent any further damage or theft.


Related Reading: 10 Most Stolen Cars In The UK 2023


Can Modern Cars Be Stolen Without Keys?

Modern cars are equipped with advanced anti-theft technology that makes it almost impossible for thieves to break in and steal the vehicle without the key. However, despite the advanced security measures, car theft still remains a concern in the UK. In this section of the blog, we will discuss the various methods used by car thieves to steal a modern car without keys and provide tips on how to protect your vehicle from such attacks.

Method 1: Relay Theft

Relay theft is a sophisticated technique used by car thieves to steal modern vehicles without keys. This technique involves using two relay devices to exploit a keyless entry system. The first device is used to pick up the signal from the key fob, while the second device amplifies the signal and uses it to unlock and start the car. This method is often used on cars with keyless entry systems, namely push-button start systems.

To protect your car from relay theft, it is recommended that you keep your keys in a Faraday pouch or metal tin to block the signal. Additionally, you should park your car in a garage or on a driveway with security cameras or motion sensors.

Method 2: OBD Port Theft

Another method used by car thieves to steal modern vehicles without keys is through the OBD (On-Board Diagnostics) port. The OBD port is used by mechanics to diagnose and repair car problems, and thieves can use this port to program a new key fob and start the car.

To protect your car from OBD port theft, you should consider installing an OBD port lock, which prevents unauthorised access to the port. You should also park your car in a well-lit area or a secure parking lot with security cameras or guards.

Method 3: Key Phishing

Key phishing is a social engineering technique used by car thieves to steal the keyless entry code from the car owner. This technique involves sending a fake email or text message to the car owner, which appears to be from the car manufacturer. The message asks the owner to reset the keyless entry code and provides a link to a fake website to do so. When the owner enters the code on the fake website, the thieves can access the car and steal it.

To protect yourself from phishing scams, you should never click on suspicious links or enter personal information on unfamiliar websites. You should also ensure that you only enter keyless entry codes on the car manufacturer’s official website or app.

In conclusion, modern cars are equipped with advanced anti-theft technology, but car theft still remains a concern in the UK. Car thieves use sophisticated methods such as relay theft, OBD port theft, and key phishing to steal vehicles without keys. To protect your car from such attacks, you should take necessary precautions such as keeping your keys in a Faraday pouch, installing an OBD port lock, parking your car in a secure location, and being mindful of phishing scams. By taking these steps, you can ensure the safety of your vehicle and have peace of mind.


Related Reading: Lost Or Stolen Car Keys?


Can You Track Stolen Car Keys?

As car owners, one of the most frustrating and worrying experiences is to lose or have our car keys stolen. Not only are car keys expensive to replace, but losing them can also expose our vehicle to the risk of theft, which can lead to greater financial losses and hassle. However, there are ways to track stolen car keys and minimise the risk of theft. In this blog, we’ll explore some of the options available to UK car owners to track stolen car keys.

Install an anti-theft device

One of the best ways to prevent car theft is to install an anti-theft device, such as a car alarm, immobiliser, or tracking device. These devices can deter thieves or prevent them from starting the car, making it less likely that they’ll be able to steal the vehicle even if they have the keys. Some anti-theft devices are linked to key fobs or smartphone apps, which means that you’ll be alerted if the car is being tampered with or moved without your consent.

Notify your insurance company

If your car keys are stolen, it’s important to notify your insurance company as soon as possible. Many insurance policies cover the costs of replacing stolen car keys, but the terms and conditions vary, so it’s best to check your policy to see what’s covered. Some policies also offer additional benefits, such as free replacement keys or car hire while your car is being repaired. Your insurance company may also be able to track the stolen keys if they have a GPS system installed.

Report to the police

It’s essential to report the theft of car keys to the police, as they’ll be able to investigate the crime and possibly recover your keys. If your car is stolen, the police will need to know the make, model, and registration number of your vehicle, as well as any distinguishing features. They can also check CCTV footage from nearby cameras or use ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) technology to track the car’s movements.

Contact a locksmith

If you’ve lost your car keys or had them stolen, you’ll need to replace them as soon as possible. Contacting a reputable locksmith is an option for getting a new set of keys. Locksmiths can cut and program new keys on site, although this can be expensive. Another option is to contact your car dealership or a specialist auto locksmith, who may be able to provide replacement keys at a lower cost.

Use a smartphone app

Several smartphone apps can help you track stolen car keys. For instance, Tile and AirTag are popular tracking devices that attach to your keys and use GPS technology to locate them. These apps allow you to ring your keys or see their last known location on a map. However, these apps are only effective if the keys are within range of your phone, so they may not work if the keys are far away.

In conclusion, losing or having your car keys stolen can be a daunting experience. However, by taking the steps outlined above, you can reduce the risk of theft, recover your keys quickly, and keep your vehicle safe. Remember to remain calm and act fast if you lose your keys, and always seek professional advice when replacing them. With the right precautions in place, you can minimise the risk of car theft and drive with peace of mind.


To summarise, while car manufacturers are constantly improving car security measures, car theft remains a challenge. Criminals now steal car keys to gain access to vehicles, making it essential to keep car keys safe at all times. If your keys have been stolen, it’s essential to take swift action, including notifying the police and a locksmith. It’s also vital to take precautions to prevent car theft, such as installing an anti-theft device, notifying your insurance company, and reporting to the police. By being mindful of potential car theft techniques like relay theft and OBD port theft and taking necessary precautions, car owners can protect their vehicles from theft and enjoy peace of mind.

Stolen Car Keys FAQs

What should I do if my car keys have been stolen?

You should immediately notify your local police and your insurance company. If you have a spare key, change the locks or reprogram the key fob. 

How can I prevent my car keys from being stolen?

One way to prevent stolen car keys is to keep them in a safe place, like a lockbox or a safe. You can also use a clutch-lock or steering-wheel lock to prevent car theft.

Are electronic keys more secure than traditional keys?

Electronic keys offer better security than traditional keys because they have a unique code that’s required to start the car.

Can thieves copy electronic car keys?

Yes, thieves can use remote key-fob hacking to duplicate electronic car keys, but a good car alarm system can prevent them from doing so.

What are the benefits of keyless entry systems?

Keyless entry systems allow you to lock and unlock your car without using a physical key, which makes it harder for thieves to steal your car.

Can thieves steal cars without the keys?

Yes, thieves can use keyless hacking techniques to unlock and start your car without having the keys.

How do I know if my car has been stolen?

If your car is missing, look for signs of forced entry, such as broken windows or damaged locks. If you suspect your car has been stolen, immediately contact the police.


Related Reading:  10 Most Stolen Cars In The UK 2023


Does insurance cover stolen car keys?

It depends on the type of insurance policy you have. Some insurance policies cover the cost of replacing stolen car keys, while others don’t.

Can I call the car dealership to replace stolen car keys?

Yes, you can contact your car dealership to get replacement car keys, but this can be expensive.

How do I know if someone has duplicated my car keys?

If you suspect someone has stolen or duplicated your car keys, contact your insurance company and ask them to investigate.

Can I disable my car keys remotely?

Some car manufacturers offer technology that allows you to disable your car keys remotely if they are lost or stolen.

Are there any tools or gadgets that can prevent stolen car keys?

Yes, there are several tools and gadgets on the market that can prevent stolen car keys, such as RFID blocking wallets and signal jamming pouches.

How easy is it to steal a car with keyless entry?

It is relatively easy to steal a car with keyless entry, but the use of strong security measures can prevent thieves from doing so.

How can I protect my keys against signal amplification attacks?

You can protect your keys against signal amplification attacks by storing them in an RFID-blocking pouch or metal container.

Can I make my car keys more secure?

Yes, you can make your car keys more secure by using a metal key fob, which can prevent signal amplification attacks. You can also use a steering-wheel or wheel lock to prevent car theft.