Car thieves can now steal your vehicle without even touching your keys.

Criminals armed with relay gadgets can hack the security code from your car key remotely and then use the code to unlock your vehicle.

The method, known as relay crime, allows car thieves to steal your car within 50 seconds as the video above shows.

Improved vehicle security, such as immobilisers, means that a vehicle cannot be started unless the key is used.

It has led to an increase in carjackings and the emergence of 'Hanoi' burglaries where thieves use fishing rods and other snags to steal vehicle keys through a letterbox or window.

Even when you're not using it you car key emits a signal. In a relay theft one criminal will use a device to pick up the signal and steal the car's security code.

The thief will then relay it to his accomplice holding another transmitter near the vehicle.

The signal will be sent to the vehicle causing it to unlock.

How do you protect yourself?

Storing your car keys in a metal box can prevent thieves stealing your vehicle's code and your car

Store your key in a container lined with metal to stop thieves being able to pick up the signal.

Keep them well away from the front of the house, as if they are by the front door for example it will very easy for the gadget to pick them up.

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Turn off the radio signal on the key if possible. With Mercedes cars, you do this by clicking it twice.

A Thatcham approved steering lock can also be attached to the vehicle's steering wheel.

A version of this story first appeared in the Coventry Telegraph .