Unless you reside in a gated community, leave your car in a secure parking facility overnight or live in a building that provides valet car parking, the security of your vehicle is something you have to address. This is especially true of newer cars that don’t require a key in the ignition to start or drive it and that use radio signals for remote starting, door locks and alarm setting.
There has been a recent spike in vehicle theft in Ontario’s most-populated areas – increasing by 45% in Toronto, 55% in Peel Region and 27% in Ottawa between 2021 and 2022. The bulk of these thefts is what is referred to as “electronic car thefts.”
The Modern Age of Car Theft
The most common methods thieves use to steal cars these days involve using a vehicle’s own tech against it. In a “relay attack,” car thieves amplify the radio signal between the car’s key fob and the vehicle by using a device that detects the signal and tricks the car into disarming and starting. The scary part is that these thefts can occur right from the victim’s driveway as they sleep.
Another electronic car theft being utilized is when thieves are able to hack into a vehicle’s onboard diagnostic (OBD) port and use it to program a dummy key fob which gives them the ability to start and drive the vehicle and arm and disarm its alarm system.
It’s Not Just Vehicles Thieves are After
Another troubling trend is the theft of personal and vehicle information from inside a victim’s car. Instead of stealing the vehicle, a thief will break into it, looking for the vehicle identification number (VIN) and the name and address of the vehicle’s owner. That information is used to create fake VIN number plates that are installed in stolen vehicles. Those cars are then sold online, and the people buying them have no idea the car is stolen until they visit ServiceOntario to register the vehicle.
What You Can Do To Protect Yourself and Your Vehicle
One of the easiest ways to protect yourself is to empty your vehicle of all valuables and government ID. You can also follow these tips from Halton Regional Police:
- Never leave your vehicle unattended while it’s running.
- Park your vehicle in a secure facility if possible.
- Lock your vehicle’s onboard diagnostic port with an “OBD lock” (you can find them online).
- Place your key fob in a faraday pouch or any other radio frequency-blocking container.
- Use a steering wheel lock or a steering column collar.
- Install a GPS tracker in your vehicle. It may still get stolen, but the tracker may help the police find your stolen car.
- Consider installing a video doorbell or a security camera system, preferably one with smart technology.
- Always keep your windows and doors shut and locked when you park your car.
- Don’t keep a spare key in your car or outside your home.
- Consider installing an ignition or fuel kill switch.
The police also recommend that you drop business cards down the door panels. If your car is stolen and then recovered, this can help them identify you as the vehicle’s owner.