Here’s why Drivers Put Their Car Keys in the Microwave and Why You Should, Too

3 min


For a very important reason, an increasing number of drivers and car owners are storing their car keys in the microwave. It may appear strange, but this simple act can prevent cars from being stolen.

The number of cars stolen in the UK increased significantly last year, with thieves stealing 89,000 vehicles in 2017.

According to the Office for National Statistics, this is up 56% from the previous year. As a result, it was the worst year for car thefts since 2012.

So, why is it on the rise?

A number of automotive experts believe that keyless entry systems are to blame. Security experts’ figures Tracker found around two-thirds of stolen vehicles were the result of the cars being “electronically compromised”.

How keyless thefts operate?

As the name suggests, keyless car thefts target cars that can be started without a key in the ignition.

While this advancement in technology has made driving more convenient – you can simply get in and start the car without having to take your key out of your pocket – it has also provided an opportunity for thieves.

These thefts use a trick called a relay attack, which is shockingly easy to pull off.

The crooks only need a relay amplifier and a relay transmitter. Then, they use these to boost the signal from your key, making your car think the key fob is close by. This lets the thieves get into your car and drive off with it.

These kinds of thefts are often done from outside your home as well, since it’s likely that your keys are inside. The thieves just hang out outside and try to pick up the signal from your key.

A recent study by Tracker showed that most people with keyless cars are at risk of this crime. This is because of where they leave their car keys overnight, like in the hallway or on a keyhook downstairs, which are easy places for thieves with an amplifier to reach as they walk around the outside of the house.

“We’re seeing more and more of these relay attacks happening all over the country,” said Andy Barrs, who is in charge of police relations at Tracker. From our survey, it’s clear that many people put their keys within easy reach of relay devices, making themselves vulnerable to these kinds of attacks.


What you can do to stop thieves?

There are many things drivers can do to keep their cars safe from smart thieves who want to use these scams.

When it comes to keeping your home safe, parking your car in a garage is a good idea. If thieves can’t get to the car, they can’t steal it.

If you don’t have a garage, adding more security around where you park, and your house will help. This could be in the form of CCTV or a motion sensor light, which will make them think twice about trying their luck.

Using old-fashioned ways to protect yourself physically will also help. These could be things like a steering lock, which could cost about £30 at Argos, or a driveway parking post, which can be bought from Barriers Direct for about £60.


Where do you leave your key fob?

Also, you should really think about where you keep those key fobs. Car thieves use relay devices to get signals through walls, doors, and windows, but they can’t work with metal.

So put your fob inside something metal, and you should be fine. Tracker says this could mean a metal tin or even a microwave.

Just try to remember to take the fob out before you use it.

You can also buy wallets to keep your key fob in that block the signal and keep thieves away.

Halfords says that sales of its $10 RFID wallet have gone up 400% in the last few weeks.

David Howells, an expert on car security at the store, said, “In-car security systems can only stop a car from being stolen so much. Many anti-theft systems seem to be easy to get around, and your fob can’t be hacked with a simple device like an RFID wallet.


Like it? Share with your friends!