Halton police reporting increases in high-end auto thefts using technology

Halton Regional Police say three schools took defensive measures on Tuesday after reports of a person with a knife near Westoak Trails Boulevard and Postmaster Drive in Oakville. Global News

Police in Halton region say 2021 has seen a marked increase in high-end vehicle thefts tied to “relay” and “re-programming” among brands with keyless entries and push-starts.

Since January, Milton and Halton Hills detachments have reported 52 thefts attributed to the schemes used to evade modern security practices.

“In the majority of these thefts, the vehicles are being stolen from residents’ driveways during the overnight hours, with most thefts typically taking less than one minute,” Halton Regional Police said in an update on Tuesday.

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The practice continues to be a significant issue in Halton with the Oakville detachment reporting in July that more than half of auto thefts (66 of 124) are now executed using technology.

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Late last month, Waterloo Regional Police warned residents about the technology on July 28 after four vehicles were stolen in one night in the city using relay and reprogramming.

Relay thefts involve a device that seeks out a key fob signal from inside a residence and amplifies it to unlock and start nearby cars. The trick doesn’t require perspective thieves to be in possession of the fob, just close to it.

Click to play video: 'Car theft was caught on camera in Toronto’s Lawrence Park'
Car theft was caught on camera in Toronto’s Lawrence Park

Reprogramming thefts do require a break-in which then allows a potential thief to use a diagnostic port in the vehicle to reprogram a blank fob.

Over 55 per cent of the thefts involve Lexus, Toyota SUV and Honda CR-V models, consistent with the Top 10 reported stolen vehicles in Canada as reported by the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Halton police have suggestions on how to mitigate the risk of having their vehicle stolen. They include:

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  • Park your vehicle in a locked and secured garage
  • Install an on-board diagnostic blocker
  • Install a steering wheel lock device
  • Place vehicle key fob inside a radio frequency shielding bag when not in use
  • Lock your vehicle at all times
  • Equip your vehicle with an alarm
  • Take steps to conceal the Vehicle Identification Number (V.I.N.)

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Investigators also suggest investing in a home security system with external cameras to capture parts of your residence, including the driveway.

They also suggest investing in an aftermarket GPS tracking device to make it easier for authorities to track a vehicle down once it has gone missing.

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