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Rise in car thefts shows no signs of slowing down


Car thefts continue to rise. Although there has been a documented increase in carjackings, a lot of cars are stolen from driveways, usually overnight. Keyless entry and push-start technology have only worsened the problem.

Thieves are especially keen on sport utility vehicles, but a wide range of vehicles are targeted.

These thefts are often referred to as "reprogramming thefts" – named after the method that criminals use.

In most of these reprogramming thefts, the thieves force their way into the vehicle first. Once they've made their way inside, they "access the diagnostic port of the vehicle, which allows them to reprogram a blank key fob to start and steal the vehicle."

If you haven't done so already, note down the following information and keep it in a safe place.

  • Year, make, model, and colour of your vehicle
  • Licence plate and vehicle identification numbers
  • Serial numbers for any special equipment
  • Any dents or scratches that distinguish your vehicle from others
  • Drop a business card down the panel doors to assist police with identifying the vehicle's registered owner

In 2020, 547 vehicles were stolen. It jumped to 872 in 2021. The stats suggest that we're likely to surpass that number this year.

Some vehicles are targeted more than others. The ones that are highly sought after by thieves are Honda CRV, Lexus RX 350, Toyota Highlander, and Ford F150.

We've gathered a list of tips from Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) and car dealerships to protect your vehicle:

  • Park your vehicle in a locked garage
  • Block the exit of a potential target vehicle with a second vehicle parked behind it
  • Install and on-board diagnostic blocker/protector 
  • Install a steering wheel lock device
  • Install an aftermarket GPS tracking device
  • Install home security cameras on the exterior of the residence
  • Always lock vehicle doors and close all windows
  • With the colder weather approaching, never leave your vehicle running with the keys in the vehicle
  • Never leave a spare key inside any vehicle in the driveway
  • Ignition/Fuel Kill switches
  • Aftermarket car audio alarm 

The HRPS has applied significant resources to investigate these crimes. Recently, through Project Eleanor, 32 stolen vehicles worth $2.2 million were recovered; seven people were arrested and faced numerous charges as a consequence of the investigation.

Nevertheless, HRPS feels crime prevention is a shared responsibility, and they're calling on you to be their eyes and ears.

Call 905-825-4777 if your vehicle is stolen or if you see suspicious vehicles or persons (unfamiliar, unusual, loitering) in your neighbourhood.

And call 911 if you witness a crime in progress or a dangerous situation.