Luxury vehicle owners are spending hundreds of dollars on new technology that can stop crafty would-be thieves from stealing their cars.
The thefts have become a growing problem in several neighbourhoods across the Greater Toronto Area, with five luxury cars stolen in Ajax in a two-week period.
Thieves are using technology to tap into the signal of an owner’s fob key inside their home and use it to get in the vehicle and drive away.
Lisa Des Vignes has a high-end Toyota Highlander and learned about what police are calling “relay thefts” shortly after purchasing it in February. She decided to spend $800 dollars on high-tech security system to prevent it from being stolen.
Within a month, someone tried to drive her car away using the relay method, but was unsuccessful.
“It’s a violation of your personal space that someone had the audacity to come in,” Des Vignes told CTV News Toronto from her home in Vaughan.
Watching the suspect on her surveillance camera footage, Des Vignes later said she has peace of mind knowing she was able to outsmart the culprit.
“It doesn’t allow them to pick up the relay, not to mention we no longer put the keys by the stairs, because that’s what we were told, they can boost the signal from the front door while you’re sleeping so you’re not even aware this is happening,” she said.
Tech-on-tech solution to stop luxury vehicle thefts
Lockdown Security in Markham is one company helping vehicle owners fight back against relay thefts.
Owner Jeff Bates said he’s helped hundreds of customers with special technology that requires owners to press a button or enter a pin code on a second fob key, which then prevents the would-be thieves.
He said the additional fob still allows the suspect to get in the vehicle, but they can’t drive away with it.
On Tuesday, Bates showed CTV News Toronto how it works. When the suspect opens the door, the vehicle horn sounds off. If the suspect is still determined and gets inside the car and pushes the start button, the vehicle won’t turn on.
“It’s becoming a lot more prevalent because it’s a very easy crime for people to perpetrate, because there is minimal punishment for the crime so it makes the thieves very interested in doing this,” Bates said.
Victims of theft left ‘puzzled and confused’ : police
Meanwhile, a rash of stolen luxury vehicles in Ajax is prompting police to warn drivers about the need to protect their property from high-tech relay thefts.
Between Nov. 6 and Nov. 21, the Durham Regional Police Service said five Lexus SUVs and a Mercedes were taken from a small area in Ajax.
Police said the vehicles were locked and most were parked in the driveway then driven away without the owner’s fob key.
“They were pretty puzzled and confused,” Const. George Tudos told CTV News Toronto.
Tudos said thieves are using technology to copy and amplify the fob key signals, which belong to vehicles valued around $100,000.
“We believe that they were doing a relay theft where they were actually stealing the signal from the fob keys within the house and then reprogramming that vehicle to the factory settings and then making a fob of their own so they are making a duplicate key and this is how they are stealing the vehicle,” he said.
“Try to be vigilant, keep an eye on your vehicles, keep it in a lit area, if you have a garage park it’s advisable to park in the garage.”
He also recommended drivers purchase special protective cases that can help prevent a suspect from tapping into the signal.
Source: CTV News