Ottawa police are reporting a sharp rise in the number of vehicles stolen in Ottawa this year, with newer model Honda CRV’s topping the list of targets for thieves.
Nearly 800 vehicles have been reported stolen in Ottawa so far this year, and police say in many cases, organized crime groups are taking them to the nearest port, Montreal, to be shipped overseas.
“Our capacity as investigators to repatriate vehicles when we find them, if we find them abroad which is very rare, is little to none,” says Det. Doug Belanger with the Ottawa Police Service.
“Consumers are paying for the convenience factor in some of the cars that has shown itself in the last few years to be easily exploitable. And these groups are always innovating, so if you can invest a little bit of money at the front end to deter or prevent thefts, it’s worth it.”
Once inside, thieves can connect to the vehicle’s on-board computer, start the car, and in some cases drive away all in less than one minute.
“Getting a port lock can help,” Belanger says. “It’s a hardened metal case with a keyed lock that will cover the diagnostic port beneath the steering column which is one of the primary methods of stealing one of these push button SUVs.”
Belanger notes that in some cases, criminals will target vehicles in public settings such as a mall parking lot and install a GPS tracker, to later find and steal the vehicle of their choice from the victim’s home.
Simple solutions such as ‘The Club’ steering wheel lock for about $60 is an economical choice. Another option is to have a vehicle immobilizer installed, which disables the key from working or even a hidden mechanical ‘kill switch’ to prevent, for instance, the fuel pump from receiving power.
Julie Beun, with CAA North & East Ontario says it is also imperative to protect your key fob, even if its in the house, by using a RFID (radio frequency identification) wallet or metal box, a metal cookie jar can also work as well.
“It creates what’s called a Faraday cage which basically blocks transmission of signals,” Beun says. “That’s what stops the thieves from creating a connection and doing what’s called a relay hack.”
Where the unique RFID of the key fob is picked up by a computer and used to reprogram a new key, which will then unlock and operate the car. There are also signal boosters, which take the RFID and boost it enough to operate the car.
“We’re seeing with the supply chains open up and people’s car that they ordered two years ago during the pandemic arriving in Ottawa and other municipalities, and as a result gangs are mobilizing they’re getting in there they’re stealing cars,” says Beun. “And as a result insurance is going to see some claims and that’s really the sad story here overall it starts to impact everybody and that is really the downside of all of this aside from just the huge inconvenience and financial distress it causes a lot of people.
The top vehicles stolen in Ottawa this year, according to Ottawa police:
- Honda CRV
- Lexus / Toyota
- Jeep Cherokee / Dodge Durango
- Ford pickup truck / Lincoln
- Acura RDX
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