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Trucks and SUVs with remote starters top most-stolen list, IBC says

Trucks and SUVs with remote starters top most-stolen list, IBC says-Milenio Stadium-Canada
The 2017 Honda CRV is shown when it was launched in 2016. The 2018 model year of this car was the most-stolen vehicle across Canada this year. (Joe White/Reuters)

 

Newer SUVs and trucks with remote starters top the list of the most often stolen vehicles in Canada, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said Wednesday.

The group that represents insurance companies across the country said theft from your own driveway using widely available electronic tools is on the rise across the country, as thieves respond to demand from high-end buyers overseas and street racers here at home.

The four-door 2018 Honda CRV with all-wheel drive holds the ignominious title of being the most stolen vehicle in Canada this year, with 350 thefts reported by insurers across the country — nearly one per day. When the 2017 and 2019 models are included in the tally, there were 758 stolen — that’s more than two per day.

 

Model year Brand Make Type Number of thefts
2018 HONDA CR-V 4DR AWD SUV 350
2017 LEXUS RX350/RX450h 4DR AWD SUV 258
2017 HONDA CR-V 4DR AWD SUV 247
2018 LEXUS RX350/RX350L/RX450h/RX450hL 4DR AWD SUV 200
2018 FORD F150 4WD Pickup 199
2019 HONDA CR-V 4DR AWD SUV 161
2018 TOYOTA HIGHLANDER 4DR 4WD SUV 158
2017 TOYOTA HIGHLANDER 4DR 4WD SUV 155
2019 LEXUS RX350/RX350L/RX450h/RX450hL 4DR AWD SUV 146
2017 DODGE RAM 1500 4WD Pickup 141

 

Drivers often worry about something like their window being smashed and their car being stolen that way. But cheap and plentiful tech tools make it far easier to steal a car today.

Bryan Gast, national director of investigative services at IBC, said in an interview with CBC News that the biggest trend he’s seeing this year is what’s known as a “relay attack.”

“That means they’re acquiring your signal from your key fob, cloning your key fob and [then] have the ability to start your vehicle without ever having the original key fob,” he said.

“It’s as simple as walking to your front door, seeing if they’re able to capture a signal of a key fob that might be inside. They don’t go anywhere in your house. They’re capturing it from the outside. And they have the ability to technologically clone the device and have the ability to start your car and drive off.”

New tech ‘makes it easy for the criminal’

The best tool to fight electronic theft, Gast says, is to not do what most people do — come into their house and leave their keys in a bowl or some other exposed place, just behind the front door. He recommends instead getting a metallic box for the car keys, one that blocks radio frequencies.

A suspect is seen using a radio frequency amplifier-Milenio Stadium-Canada
A suspect is seen using a radio frequency amplifier, which boosts the signal emitting from this vehicle’s fob located just inside the front door of the house. (Toronto Police Service)

“If you put it in a box, it doesn’t emit the radio frequency. Basically, it is in a protective box or a pouch and [criminals] don’t have the ability to capture that key fob signal.”

Cars manufactured since 2008 have mandated some sort of car-mobilizing technology built into them, and that has changed the trends in car theft ever since, Gast says.

“A lot of the time, as people leave the key fobs in their vehicle, that’s where they keep it. They make it easy to hop in, push the button to start and off they go. But it also makes it easy for the criminal, too.”

There’s another built-in vulnerability in something many drivers do as a precaution: when in a parking lot, they double-check their car is locked by hitting the key fob.

But a thief in the area with the right technology can clone the fob from that.

“You’re emitting that frequency, which can also be captured,” Gast said.

A lot of the most-stolen vehicles are higher-end, expensive and large cars that can be hard to acquire outside North America, which is why Gast says a big motivator for theft isn’t a criminal looking for a joy ride or to sell it locally. The thief often has a specific request for a specific vehicle and then sets about finding it.

Convenient technology is just making it easier, such that currently, a car is stolen somewhere in Canada every six minutes.

Theft on the rise in COVID

While COVID-19 has led to more cars being parked due to people working from home, it has also led to an increase in one type of car theft, Gast says. Namely, people looking for specific parts and vehicles to be used in street racing events and other reckless driving behaviour.

“The problem is stealing parts for some of these modified vehicles in the vehicles themselves,” he said. “Law enforcement definitely has their hands full.”

CBC

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CBC

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