Stop Car Thieves in Their Tracks

Car thieves have their eyes on you. Before you can say keyless entry, your prize possession could be in a shipping container to Mauritania or “chop shopped” behind a Scarborough dumpster.  

Top Luxury Autos Thieves Target

Auto thefts were up six per cent across Canada in 2018, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). Honda and Toyota were the most popular makes for enterprising auto thieves that year. Toronto Police reported Lexus, Toyota, Mercedes and Land Rover topped the luxury auto list. Ford F-series trucks were pretty popular too.

Shipping Container Cars

It’s part of a long-term trend. Thieves made off with 52 autos, mostly Honda CRVs, Toyota Highlanders and Lexus SUVs, in a $2.1 million bust police cracked wide open in July 2020. The high-end vehicles, lifted from Vaughan, Markham, northern Toronto and Peel Region streets, were bound for Africa via Montreal. 

Worst Areas to Park Luxury Vehicles 

Toronto’s central district, Bloor Street north to Steeles Avenue, was the worst place to park your car. Thefts went up by 240 per cent in that neighbourhood in a single year alone. North central from Lawrence to Steeles saw some heavy action too. Thefts were up 45 per cent in that parking zone. 

Secluded Areas Put Your Auto at Risk

Forget dark, desolate parking spots. Out on the street, where it’s visible to all, may be the safest spot to park an auto, although that won’t deter smash and grab artists from breaking the windows to take whatever they can.  Secluded areas like carports, parking garages or underground parkades are coveted because thieves have their pick of vehicles.

Thieves Clone Fobs to Break In

Best place to catch a GTA car thief? At the movies. Judging by their inventiveness, Fast & Furious star Vin Diesel could hardly do better. Key spoofing was used most often by pros to steal vehicles. Spoofing relays the signal from the key fob in your hand or pocket to your car door. The relay operates up to a thousand feet away, while you’re shopping or working nearby. You’re unlikely to notice the stranger beside you who tapped your fob’s signal. 

Computer Hacks for Car Thieves

Hackers score big in the car theft industry. Auto manufacturers suspect computer-wielding thieves can walk up to a car, read its onboard diagnostics and program a new fob in the time it takes to order a pumpkin spice latté. Online sales of cheap key programming machines or thefts from locksmith shops allow thieves to program blank key fobs and simply drive off.

Move Your Fob to Protect Your Car

Thieves who target homeowners trade off on the fact most leave their fobs in the mudroom or near an entry. They’ve been caught on home security cameras standing nearby and boosting the fob’s signal to transmit it to a device placed on or beside a vehicle (graphic courtesy Toronto Police Service). Voila, they’re in and your auto’s gone. Your car will keep going until it runs out of gas.

Like Candy to a Car Thief

Hiding a spare key or fob under the doormat, in the glove compartment or centre console is like offering candy to a kid. So is leaving the keys in the ignition and doors unlocked while you gas up or inflate the tires. Those handy keys for valet parkers that come with some luxury vehicles are like an engraved invitation. Even leaving a window open a tiny crack can allow a thief to manipulate it off its track, reach in and open the door.

Stalling Can Work, Sometimes

Thieves like to get in and out fast. A kill switch that disables the battery, ignition or fuel pump may deter light-fingered loiterers. So can steering wheel locks, motion sensors and hard-to-reach security cameras. Bonus: approved theft deterrant devices lower your insurance premiums. (If you’re really determined to save money, move to a neighbourhood with low crime rates.)

Blocking Electronic Signals

Blocking your fob from sending a signal can be the best way to thwart would-be car thieves. You can make a faraday cage for all your electronics from a metal garbage can or steel file cabinet. Line your vessel on the sides and bottom with cardboard to stop electronic signals from getting in. To test your cage, place a radio in it and turn it on. If you can still hear the radio, you’ll need some tweaks.

Making a Faraday Fob Pouch

Create a cheap faraday fob pouch by taping cardboard together to make a cellphone-sized pouch. Make a second aluminium foil bag the same way. Place your fob (and phone) in the foil bag. Pop the foil bag into the cardboard pouch and fold the top over to close it. Haven’t got a cardboard pouch? A metal cocktail shaker works just as well. Happy commuting.

Transfer a Used Vehicle to a Family Member

Axess Law’s Ontario commissioners of oaths witness your sworn declaration if you want to keep it all in the family. Licensed commissioners can meet with you in person at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices. Online video conference appointments are available 7 days a week, day or evening, at your convenience. Dial 1-877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto 647-479-0118 or use our online booking form to make an appointment.

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s commissioner of oaths services.