Security firm Thatcham Research has offered guidance to drivers concerned by how easy it is to break into keyless entry-equipped vehicles.

Yesterday, video footage was released by West Midlands Police that showed how quickly thieves can steal a vehicle with keyless entry/start. A new Mercedes C-Class was stolen off a driveway in just a minute by thieves using a ‘transmitter relay’.

The relay attack seen in the footage exploits a weakness in the car’s keyless-entry system, with criminals being able to ‘catch’ the signal from the keyless fob, and trick the car into thinking the key is nearby.

The security firm has now issued its five top tips to drivers to help protect their vehicles.

The first is that you should contact your dealer to check that your vehicle has had every software update that it can have.

Next, you should check if the keyless entry fob can be turned off. Your dealer will be able to confirm this, but if it can be turned off overnight, it will significantly help securing your car.

Another key point is storing your keys as far as possible away from the outside of the house. It doesn’t matter if the key is simply out of sight, because thieves could still get close enough to pick up the signal regardless.

Another thing that Thatcham Research advises is to always be vigilant, and report anything unusual to police, both on your own property and nearby.

You can also add extra security to your car to help prevent theft, too. This can be done using old-fashioned steering locks or with trackers.

Richard Billyeald, chief technical officer at Thatcham Research, said: “Keyless entry systems on cars offer convenience to drivers, but can in some situations be exploited by criminals. Concerned drivers should contact their dealer for information and guidance, and follow our simple security steps.

“We are working closely with the police and vehicle manufacturers to address this vulnerability, continuing our approach that has driven vehicle crime down 80 per cent from its peak in 1992.”