Jiggler Keys: An Automotive Security Concern
May 28, 2014 2 Comments
Previously in our blog posts, we have touched on the security issues that can arise from the use of bump keys. Thieves use bump keys to easily gain access to your home in a theft, but a bump key is not effective for automobiles. Car owners still need to be wary about the threat of automotive theft which occurs thousands of times a year just in the city of Philadelphia alone. To begin with, older model vehicles are much more likely to be targeted by car thieves than newer vehicles.The reason that older model vehicles are targeted is they do not require a transponder chip inside of the key, which newer models do. This transponder key prevents the vehicle from being started unless a key that has been specifically programmed to that vehicle is placed in the ignition. This poses the questions, what tools are thieves using to steal cars and how can you protect yourself?
Jiggler keys are to car thieves are what bump keys are to residential burglars. While the two keys operate in a slightly different fashion their design and principles of function are about the same. While bump keys use a cut down version of the lock’s key, a jiggler key is a generic copy of a certain make vehicle’s key. This generic key is put into the ignition and what the thief hopes is that the ignition is warn enough that the key will be able to start the vehicle even though the cuts do not match. In some cases this is extremely easy for thieves, especially in vehicles that have a high degree of wear to them. Both the ignition itself and the outside door lock can be compromised by jiggler keys and outside of purchasing an entirely new vehicle there is not much that can owners can do to prevent this from happening. In Western Washington, were jiggler keys and auto thefts have become a big problem this year, police are warning all citizens to be wary and notify them of any suspicious behavior. Police who have arrested thieves using jiggler keys before have noted that many of these thieves do not carry just one jiggler key, but multiple keys for different make vehicles that they may encounter.
With advancements in technology jiggler keys should not be a security concern for much longer, however the large number of used vehicles on the road today indicates that there will still be targets for thieves to identify into the near future. Many car manufacturers, like General Motors, have an eye towards the future when it comes to automotive key security. General Motors, in part due to a massive ignition recall, hinted that all future model vehicles may come with push to start systems standard. This not only will improve the security of vehicles, but will also eliminate service needs that arise from key turned ignitions. The weight of the keys, plus everything that a person has on their key ring, and the circular turning motion of the ignition, wear and tear become extremely common place. Replacing this circular motion with a button prevents any mechanical damage that can occur from regular use.
For now, older car owners can protect their car from jiggler keys with the classic security of a steering wheel club. At just $20 putting a steering wheel club in place, when you do not have a transponder or push to start system, is the best way to protect yourself from automotive thieves. Car owners can look forward to the day that push to start systems are standard, after all, it is much more difficult to steal a vehicle when it requires twenty minutes of programming and an very expensive machine!