A popular tool used by hackers overseas to copy a car’s key fob data and open garage doors has been seized by Queensland Police, prompting a warning to Australians to keep their vehicles safe.

    As reported by the Brisbane Times, an email circulated within the Queensland Police Service said officers from the Boondall station in the city’s north recently seized a Flipper Zero device.

    These devices have become popular as a way to steal cars in the US and the UK.

    The Flipper Zero is capable of reading, copying and replicating signals from RFID and NFC tags, as well as the frequencies emitted by certain car key fobs and garage door openers.

    While it was designed as a scanning device to expose security weaknesses in technology developed by large companies, it has risen to prominence recently for its ability to allow hackers to steal cars without physically taking the keys.

    Its use for nefarious purposes has resulted in Canada banning the Flipper Zero – and other wireless scanning devices – when used for illegal activities, having walked back a proposed total ban on the importation and sale of them.

    It’s not yet known whether a Flipper Zero has been used to steal a vehicle in Australia, though Queensland Police’s community safety group Acting Superintendent Rob Fleischer told the publication car owners should remain vigilant about where they keep their keys at night.

    “There is a trend developing worldwide in the US and the UK of emerging technology that allows some devices to be able to read the codes and frequencies from electronic devices,” Acting Superintendent Fleischer told the Brisbane Times.

    “On occasion as well, they’re being used to read the frequencies of key fobs from cars to allow criminals to access vehicles.

    “If you’re concerned about the frequency being read from your car fob, place your car keys in a tin or something like a Faraday case, which is a foil case.

    “Remove your keys from the vicinity of your car.

    “We’re aware it can be used for criminal means, so if you’re caught with this device we’ll be asking some serious questions about why you have this device and what you are using it for.”

    Research released last year claimed nearly one out of 10 Australians had reported their car was broken into within the past 12 months, amid Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data showing vehicle theft and burglary has continued to rise post-pandemic.

    MORE: How a new car is stolen without the key in under five minutes
    MORE: Top 3 cheap tools to prevent your car being stolen from home

    Jordan Mulach

    Born and raised in Canberra, Jordan has worked as a full-time automotive journalist since 2021, being one of the most-published automotive news writers in Australia before joining CarExpert in 2024.

    Buy and Lease
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers