Why your car can get stolen and how to stop it in Ontario
The Toronto Police Service (TPS) alerted the public of the uptick in carjackings in the city on Tuesday.
In a news conference at Toronto Police Headquarters Tuesday afternoon, police revealed there have been 182 carjackings so far this year, which is 80 more reported incidents compared to 2021.
Insp. Rich Harris from the Hold Up Squad said 56 of the stolen vehicles in these carjackings have been found.
“Many of these investigations are active and ongoing and we’re working with police services across every jurisdiction to solve these crimes in a timely fashion,” Harris said.
Due to the significant rise in carjackings in Toronto, here is a rundown of why your car could get stolen, which cars are the most highly sought-after by thieves, and what to do if your car has been stolen.
WHY CARS GET STOLEN
According to Toronto police, thieves often steal vehicles to sell them or some of their parts. They could also just use the car to take them from point A to point B, and then after, abandon it.
Police say vehicles can also be stolen to help them commit other crimes, like robberies, drug deals, or drive-by shootings.
Another reason thieves go after cars is for “vehicle cloning”, which is when a legitimately-owned car’s identity – its vehicle identification number – is used on a stolen vehicle.
“Vehicles are stolen, given a fraudulent identification number and then sold to unsuspecting persons who are defrauded of their money,” police wrote in a pamphlet sent to CTV Toronto.
ONTARIO’S MOST COMMONLY STOLEN VEHICLES IN 2021
According to a December report from Équité Association, a Canadian organization dedicated to reducing and preventing insurance fraud, the most commonly stolen cars in the province last year were the Lexus RX series, Honda CR-Vs, and Honda Civics.
Toronto police also had these cars among the top three most sought-after vehicles for thieves in the city.
This is Ontario's full top 10 list from Équité Association, including vehicle models, makes, and years:
- Lexus RX, SUV, 2018
- Honda CR-V, SUV, 2019
- Honda Civic, Sedan, 2019
- Toyota Highlander, SUV, 2019
- Chevrolet/GMC, Silverado/Sierra 1500, 2500, 3500, Truck, 2017
- Ford, F-150, F-250, F-350, F-450, Truck, 2019
- Dodge Ram, 1500, 2500, 3500, Truck, 2019
- Honda Accord, Sedan, 2018
- Toyota Corolla, Sedan, 2017
- Land Rover, Range Rover, SUV, 2016
Meanwhile, in Toronto, Honda CR-Vs were the top most stolen vehicles in Toronto in 2021, and Hyundai Elantras also cracked TPS’s list.
In Tuesday's news conference, Harris said on top of Hondas and Toyotas, high-end cars like Mercedes, BMWs, Porsches and Lamborghinis are targets for carjackers in Toronto.
HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK OF GETTING YOUR CAR STOLEN
When parking in public, police advise against leaving your car running – even if you’re running an errand for just a minute. They also say to bring your keys with you, lock all of the doors and windows, and turn your wheels toward the curb to make it harder to tow.
At home, Toronto police recommend parking rear-wheel drive vehicles – cars whose rear wheels do most of the pushing – backed into a driveway. Front-wheel drive cars, or vehicles where the engine is at the front, are recommended to be parked front-end first.
They also suggest making a photocopy of your ownership or insurance cards to leave inside of your vehicle instead of the original.
Other helpful advice Toronto police provided is to never hide a spare key in the vehicle or leave anything on display, like your purse or charging devices. They also remind car owners to take out any items they wouldn’t want to lose.
There are a few more tips CAA South Central Ontario (CAASCO) recommends to keep both you and your vehicle safe.
For yourself, CAASCO says to park your car in a well-lit, high-traffic area, and at home, consider installing a home security camera system that looks over your parking space.
If you see someone heading to your vehicle and you suspect you’re being followed, they recommend making some noise to attract attention and activating your car’s alarm with your key fob.
As for your vehicle, CAASCO recommends keeping your wireless key fob away from the front door or using a Faraday box or pouch to block its signal in order to prohibit remote entry to the vehicle.
They also say to install a GPS tracker, though it won’t necessarily deter theft – after all, York police shared late last year thieves can use Apple AirTags and its technology to track and steal high-end vehicles.
CAASCO also advises using an immobilizer, which is an electronic security device that will start your vehicle’s engine only if the right key is present. This can prevent thieves from hotwiring your car.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CAR IS STOLEN
If your vehicle is stolen, police say to contact them immediately, and be ready to provide the following information to them:
- The year, model, make and colour of the vehicle
- Licence number
- Vehicle Identification Number
- Serial numbers of all special equipment
- Special markings - dents, scratches, other damage etc.
- Detailed information on any accessories stolen from the vehicle
With files from CTV Toronto’s Abby O’Brien and Phil Tsekouras, and CP24’s Kerrisa Wilson.
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