Trucks and SUVs with key chains top the list of most stolen, says IBC

Newer SUVs and remote-starting trucks top the list of the most stolen vehicles in Canada, the Bureau of Canada said on Wednesday.

The group representing insurance companies across the country said that theft in their own garage using widely available electronic tools is increasing across the country, as thieves respond to the demands of sophisticated buyers abroad and street runners here in home.

The 2018 Honda CRV four-door four-wheel drive holds the shameful title of being the most stolen vehicle in Canada this year, with 350 thefts reported by insurers across the country – almost one a day. When the 2017 and 2019 models are included in the count, there were 758 stolen – that’s more than two a day.

Here is the rest of the list:

There is also a wide variety across the country. In Alberta, all the most stolen vehicles are versions of pickup trucks: F150s and F350s from Ford and Dodge Rams.

“These trucks are attractive to thieves, and oil and gas companies have used them almost exclusively, which has brought a disproportionately high number of them to the province,” said the IBC.

In Ontario, however, the list is made up mainly of high-end SUVs from Toyota, Honda and Lexus. Some of them are sold abroad, but many are chopped into pieces, said the IBC.

Atlantic Canada had a mix of both, with popular sedans like the Honda Accord and Chevrolet Cruz. The most stolen vehicle in Atlantic Canada was the Chevrolet Silverado, which is normally exported by criminal groups.

Drivers often worry about something like having their window broken and their car stolen that way. But cheap and abundant technology tools make it much easier to steal a car today.

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Bryan Gast, IBC’s national director of investigative services, said in an interview with CBC News that the biggest trend he is seeing this year is what is known as a “relay attack”.

“This means that they are acquiring your sign from your key chain, cloning your key chain and [then] have the ability to start your vehicle without ever having the original keychain, “he said.

“It’s as simple as walking to the front door, seeing if they are able to capture the signal from a keychain that may be inside. They are not going anywhere in your home. They are capturing outside. And they have the ability to technically clone the device and start the car and drive. “

New technology ‘makes it easier for the criminal’

The best tool for combating electronic theft, says Gast, is to not do what most people do – go into your home and leave your keys in a bowl or somewhere else exposed, just behind the front door. Instead, he recommends buying a metal box for your car keys, which blocks radio frequencies.

A suspect is seen using a radio frequency amplifier, which increases the signal emitted by the fob of this vehicle located just outside the front door of the house. (Toronto Police Service)

“If you put it in a box, it doesn’t emit radio frequency. Basically, it’s in a protective case or bag and [criminals] does not have the ability to capture that keychain signal. “

Cars made since 2008 require some kind of car mobilization technology built into them, and that has changed trends in car theft since then, says Gast.

“Often, when people leave the keychain in the vehicle, that’s where they keep it. They make it easier to get in, push the button to call and leave. But it also makes it easier for the criminal, too.”

There is another vulnerability built into something that many drivers do as a precaution: when they are in a parking lot, they check if the car is locked by pressing the key ring.

But a thief in the area with the right technology can clone the fob from there.

“You are broadcasting this frequency, which can also be captured,” said Gast.

Many of the most stolen vehicles are sophisticated, expensive and large cars that can be difficult to purchase outside of North America. That is why Gast says that a great motivator for theft is not a criminal looking for a fun ride or to sell locally. The thief usually has a specific order for a specific vehicle and then starts to find it.

Convenient technology is just making it easier, so a car is currently stolen somewhere in Canada every six minutes.

Theft on the rise in COVID

Although COVID-19 caused more cars to stop because of people working at home, it also led to an increase in one type of car theft, says Gast. That is, people looking for specific parts and vehicles to be used in street racing events and other reckless driving behaviors.

“The problem is stealing parts of some of these modified vehicles from the vehicles themselves,” he said. “The police definitely have their hands full.”

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