The Top 10 Stolen Vehicles in Ontario & How to Protect Your VehicleMay 2nd, 2023
For years, we have assumed that cars with keyless entry were the future. Millions of people have enjoyed the ease of use as vehicles unlock themselves and start up with a touch if the driver has the key fob with them. However, between 2021 and 2022 the rate of vehicle thefts increased by 45% to over 9,000 thefts in the year. The number has roughly doubled in the last five years since 2018 according to Toronto Police. And most of these vehicle thefts have been models with keyless entry using a specific internet-publicized method of theft.
A recent theft wave has revealed that many different makes, models, and years of keyless entry vehicles are vulnerable to theft in one particularly exploitable way: CAN (controller area network) hacking. As a result, thousands of vehicles have been swiftly stolen in Toronto and throughout Ontario, with many more across the world that share these under-secured keyless entry features.
Insurers and police departments together have identified the top ten vehicle models being targeted in this rampant car theft crime wave.
- Lexus RX Series
- 2016 – 2021
- Honda RC-V Series
- 2016 – 2021
- Ford F-15s, F250s, F350s, and F450s
- 2015 – 2020
- Toyota Highlander Series
- 2016 – 2021
- Honda Civic Series
- 2016 – 2021
- Land Rover, Range Rover
- 2015 – 2021
- Honda Accord Series
- 2018 – 2021
- Chevrolet/GMC Silverados and Sierrras 1500s, 2500s, and 3500s
- 1999 – 2006
- Dodge Ram 1500s, 2500s, and 3500s
- 2009 – 2018
- Toyota Tacoma
- 2016 – 2021
These ten makes and models, some in a wide range of series selection, are being targeted because there is something inherently insecure about the key fob system – a flaw that has recently gone viral in the darker parts of the internet.
How and Why These Keyless Entry Cars Are Getting Stolen
What is not secure about keyless entry systems in vehicles of all models, manufacturers, and production years? The answer lies in the CAN or Controller Area Network. This system connects the car with its key fob to deactivate door locks and allow for ignition. Typically, the car won’t activate unless the fob is within a range of just a few feet. However, with a slight modification behind a headlight, car thieves have been able to boost the inquiry signal the car sends to the fob and receive that unique confirmation message back at far greater distances.
Sometimes, they may use a troubleshooting tool sold online to bypass the key fob altogether. The tool is intended to provide emergency entry and operation of the vehicle, but if anyone can buy one, it then becomes a tool for theft.
Yet a third way these vehicles are at risk is through the use of a NFC or near-field keycard that can unlock a keyless vehicle.
How Can You Protect Your Vehicle If You Own a Highly-Stealable Car?
The problem is that these cars are some of the most popular and widely used vehicles on the road. From the reliable Hondas to common pickup trucks, millions of people in Ontario and beyond are at a heightened risk of having their vehicle stolen out of their driveway or from the parking lot when going about their routines. These top ten are not the only models at risk. Many keyless models released in the last five to ten years may have this exploitable flaw.
Fortunately, there are measures you can take to reduce the risk of theft or to get your car back quickly before it is stolen.
Keep Your Key Fob in a Faraday Pouch or Metal Box
First, protect your car from the key fob amplifier trick by blocking radio waves from reaching the fob when you are not using your car. We suggest placing your key fob in a metal box when you are home, as metal stops radio waves effectively. You can also use a Faraday pouch when you’re away from home to protect the fob while at work or the store.
An easy DIY Faraday pouch is an envelope of foil folded into your wallet. When you’re not using the key fob, slip it into the foil-lined pocket in your wallet for safekeeping.
Install a GPS Tag Hidden Inside the Car
The best way to get your car back after it has been stolen, often on the same day, is to install a GPS tag. Look for places to hide the tag where a thief would not notice. The tag provides a live location tracker for your vehicle which police can use to locate and return the vehicle before it’s taken apart, sold, or repurposed.
Install Dash Cams with Remote Streaming Capabilities
Dash cams can be a useful way to capture footage of the thieves in action, and many car thieves know to avoid vehicles with apparent and glowing dash cams. Use the type that is always active, activates when the car shakes, or can be remote-activated with an app. Look for live streaming capabilities to send the feed to your phone and record it immediately.
Put a Steering Lock On Your Vehicle When You Leave
You can always rely on the old-fashioned way to keep your vehicle from being stolen, dating back to the old hot-wiring days: steering lock. This is a wide bar that you can lock over your steering wheel to keep the vehicle from being operated while you’re away. Most car thieves looking for a 20-second theft will skip your vehicle for the next easy mark.
Park Your Car in the Garage, if Possible
If you have a garage, try to park your car inside whenever possible. The same is true if your workplace has an enclosed and security-monitored garage. Car thieves will avoid trying to break into secure locations or risk being on camera.
Install a Security System for the Driveway
If you park in the driveway, install a security system that monitors driveway activity. Install a motion-sensor light and an infrared camera that can catch car thieves in the act and sometimes scare them away before the job is done.
In the Driveway, Park a Keyed Vehicle Behind a Keyless Vehicle
If you have a vehicle that requires a key, park it behind your keyless vehicle in the driveway. This will make it impossible for car thieves to get away with your keyless vehicle.
In Public, Park in Well-Lit Areas with CCTV Cameras
When parking in public, choose well-lit areas that are most likely under CCTV camera surveillance, as car thieves try to avoid these areas.
Insure Your Vehicle Against Car Theft
With this wave of vehicle thefts, your vehicle can get stolen even if you take all reasonable precautions. This is why many people in Ontario are checking and updating their vehicle insurance coverage. Don’t leave yourself out in the cold if you have one of these easily stolen keyless models. Protect your transportation and your investment in that vehicle with the right insurance policy.
Call Duliban today to learn more about coverages for your vehicle.
- Intact Insurance Canada
- Insurance Bureau fo Canada
- Equite Association
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