‘Lock it or lose it’ as thefts from vehicles grow

With thefts from vehicles on the rise, York Regional Police (YRP) is reminding you to “lock it or lose it” and is issuing a stark warning that it takes “just seconds” for such thefts to occur.

Investigators have even released a video (https://youtu.be/YMuaX0OMZzg) that shows a thief entering a victim’s car, helping himself to a drink and making off with the victim’s belongings in less than 30 seconds.

“Thefts typically occur when vehicles are left unattended and unlocked for long periods of time, such as in residential driveways, commuter lots and parking lots of businesses,” says Const. Peter Carman. “Make no mistake, it can happen in just seconds. These types of incidents are known to increase during the fall months.”

YRP advises you to always roll up your vehicle’s windows, lock the doors and take the key and to never leave your vehicle unattended while it’s running. If you have a garage, use it and lock the door as well as your vehicle. Never leave your car keys in plain view or in an area that’s easily accessible.

Other tips: don’t leave our vehicle registration certificate and proof of insurance in your glove compartment but carry them with you at all times. Always park your vehicle in a well-lit area, and never leave valuable objects or packages in full view (put them in the trunk instead). Give only your ignition key to a parking lot attendant and keep all other keys with you.

The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) North & East Ontario says cars with a keyless entry system can also be an easy target for thieves. The vehicle and ignition smart fob communicate using low-power radio signals that are only effective when the fob is within about three feet of the car door or ignition start/stop button. Some thieves have developed special equipment to amplify the communication signals – known as a relay hack – to significantly extend the system’s effective range, tricking the car into thinking the fob is next to the car door or trunk and allowing the vehicle to be unlocked and started.

Relay hacks primarily involve property theft from inside vehicles, not the cars themselves. Car theft is possible, but once the car has been driven out of range of the smart fob and shut off, it cannot be restarted. The CAA advises you to store all your key fobs in a metal container when not in use, as the metal provides a barrier that interrupts radio signals to/from the smart fob.

Screenshot from a video released by York Regional Police showing a thief making off with items from a car.

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