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‘Target harden’ your vehicles as auto thefts up 29% in Toronto: police

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WATCH ABOVE: Toronto police say there's a pandemic when it comes to auto theft in the city. As Sean O'Shea reports, thefts are up 29 per cent this year and by a much higher amount when it comes to luxury vehicles.

Toronto police say year-to-date statistics show vehicle thefts in Toronto are up 29 per cent and one of the main problems is that owners are simply not doing enough to secure them.

“There have been about 1,000 more stolen autos this year compared to last year, up from 3,200 to 4,200,” Det. Sgt. Daniel Sabadics said during a news conference Thursday morning.

“At 53 Division, we’ve noticed a year-to-date 92 per cent increase of stolen autos.”

READ MORE: Organized crime behind surge in Canadian vehicle thefts, auto insurance fraud: experts

Police say thieves are using more sophisticated tools and techniques to break into vehicles. Lately, luxury vehicles such as Lexus, Mercedes and Land Rover have been the main targets.

“We had investigations indicating that they were electronic override thefts,” Sabadics said.

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“One, relay thefts, which you may be familiar with where your fob or your key itself is cloned. Second, electronic override method is being used to access the vehicle’s OBD, or on-board diagnostic in the car.”

READ MORE: Border officers frustrated at police inaction over stolen cars being exported through Montreal

Investigators say the increased trend in luxury auto thefts is similar in areas surrounding the city including York, Halton and Peel region.

Earlier this week, the Insurance Bureau of Canada released its annual report indicating thefts of trucks and SUVs are on the rise.

Thefts were up two per cent nationally in 2017, and 15 per cent in Ontario, the hardest-hit province.

The rising trend of auto theft and auto insurance fraud in Canada is believed to be connected to organized crime.

VIDEO: Terrorism linked to Canada car thefts

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Terrorism linked to Canada car thefts

Toronto police say that although most vehicles have alarm systems built into them, they are standardized and easy for thieves to bypass.

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Sabadics recommends purchasing aftermarket alarm systems which is unique to the installer and much more difficult to steal.

Investigators say the best method to prevent your vehicle from being stolen is to install “target harden” anti-theft devices such as wheel clubs, wheel boots, aftermarket ignition kill switches, or radio-frequency identification (RFID) car immobilizers.

“We found most of these electronic overrides of luxury automobiles occur at the home and they occur overnight, 2 or 3 in the morning,” Sabadics said.

“We had one this week where one of the intelligent RFID was installed in the vehicle. Because this was a replacement for a recently stolen vehicle, I think the thieves were at it for about three hours on video, unsuccessful.”

VIDEO: Toronto Police say ‘old school’ safeguards are best for luxury cars

Click to play video 'Toronto Police say ‘old school’ safeguards are best for luxury cars' Toronto Police say ‘old school’ safeguards are best for luxury cars
Toronto Police say ‘old school’ safeguards are best for luxury cars