Thursday, July 25, 2019

Now you know...

Today I was walking through a shopping center, not in the vicinity of my car (which is a 2018 Japanese brand with keyless ignition.)  My key fob unlocks the car with a beep when you touch the door handle, and it was out of its Faraday cage (yes, I keep it in one of those) as I was planning to get in my car and head home.   As I walked past a modern Kia, that car beeped at me and I heard a click...    So I pushed the "open" button on my key fob, and the Kia's doors unlocked.  Then I pushed the "lock" button and they locked.  Not wanting to stir any attention by setting off the horn, I pushed both buttons again and got the same responses.  Whether it was initially or not, I left it locked.


On the other hand, old-fashioned metal keys are not a fail-safe method of assuring that your car stays locked.  Back in the 1950's, my parents were shopping and returned to their car (or so they thought - same make, model, number of doors, and color.)  Their key opened the door and operated the ignition, so they got in, and drove off.   Dad reached up on the dash to retrieve the pack of cigarettes he had left there - but for some reason it was gone.  Then he looked down, and saw a clean ashtray and no floor mats.  His car had a full ashtray and floor mats.  They drove right back to where they had picked up the car, parked it, and found their car 4 spaces away (with cigarettes and floor mats intact.)  They were lucky the real owner didn't report it as stolen...and fortunately nothing more came of it.

I was later informed that there were only X thousand sets of key sets between each carmaker, so there were likely huge numbers of cars using the same keys.   But you had to work a little harder to find them...trying to stick your key in every brand X car in the lot is "kinda sorta" a give-away as to your intentions.

Moral of this story is: whenever your modern car is unattendcd and locked, it's still not safe.  Luggage or other belongings being stolen are the least of your worries.   (I could have cleaned that car out and re-locked it without a trace.)  And likewise, the owner of that car could do the same for mine.   It's also possible that the entire car  could just be driven off by a party with evil intent.   Wrecking the car and its owner gets blamed?  Conceivably.   Imagine the problems from the thief doing a hit-and-run - with the cops showing up at your door, guns drawn and handcuffs out!

Carmakers obviously need to make their systems more secure....   In the meanwhile, I'm not sure what the answer is for car owners...other than to pray nobody with evil intent walks by your car and hears your car doors unlock.



  1. Hi Mandy,
    Scary findings. My car was stolen when locked and I had the key. The thief smashed a window,the alarm went off. He dived under the wheel and plugged into the ODB2 socket, cloned a key, alarm stopped and he drove off probably in less than half a minute. Simple.