These Tips Can Help Customers Avoid Having Their Cars Stolen

Car thefts are on the rise around the world, fueled by supply chain problems that have cut off automakers’ access to key components and pushed up the prices of both new vehicles and the parts needed to build them. repair cars that are already in circulation.

In Europe and the United Kingdom, over the past 10 years, technology has become the main method of stealing vehicles, said Bryan Gast, vice president of investigative services at the Équité Association. But in the US, the number one facilitator of theft is drivers who leave their keys in their cars.

“Canada is kind of a mix between the two,” he said. “We are starting to see, in the last five years, that technology is the predominant way that vehicles are stolen. Criminals are using tools that are bought online that can make it very easy.”

For brokers, that creates an opportunity to talk to customers about ways to keep their vehicles safe. Here are some popular theft methods and ways to deter them.

  • Method: Thieves have become accustomed to accessing something called an On-Board Diagnostic Port (ODP) which provides access to a car’s electronic systems. Once they get into a vehicle, thieves can connect to the ODP and program a new keyfob. That allows them to start the car and drive away.

“That’s one of the biggest methods in Ontario to steal vehicles,” Gast said. “This is the sixth year in a row that it has increased, so it is still an upward trend.”

  • Defending: Customers can place an ODP lock, which covers the ODP port. “Some owners have gone so far as to put a dummy ODP port on what appears to be the legitimate one under the dash. The thief plugs it in and nothing happens.”

Other deterrents are mechanical locks on the steering wheel or throttle. There are also immobilizer devices that can be connected to a car’s ignition system. Gast notes that these require professional installation to avoid voiding warranties.

  • Method: Another trend is the ‘relay attack’, which typically involves two criminals using technology that captures signals from door locks in newer cars.

If a car owner parks, pulls into his driveway and drops his key fob on a table, a criminal wearing an extender walks near the house, while an accomplice pulls on the car’s door handle. car. That triggers a signal to see if the key fob is nearby. The antenna picks up that signal and returns the radio frequency.

“They’re able to capture that and reprogram the keyfob and voila,” Gast said.

  • Defending: There are two main methods. Faraday boxes or bags that block signals from key fobs can be placed inside the car owner’s home or carried in a pocket or purse.

Behavior changes also help. “These attacks are not just happening in residential areas. It can happen in a parking lot. Someone parked their car and now they’re walking to the mall and they can’t remember if they locked their car,” Gast said. “Some of these fobs have a pretty good range and the owner clicks the lock button just to make sure. Someone who is close to that device can pick up the signal.”

Brokers should also tell customers to be on the lookout for tracking tags — AirTags or SmartTags that were designed to help people find lost phones or laptops — that thieves put on cars they’ve been looking to steal.

“A lot of thieves walk through a mall parking lot looking for a particular vehicle, but there’s no opportunity to steal it there,” Gast said. “They put their little device somewhere in a vehicle and then, using an app, they track it back to the residence, and at two or three in the morning they get to work on their shopping list of what they want to bring. ”

Other ways to deter theft or recover stolen vehicles include:

  • Using GPS trackers installed by dealers or aftermarket repair shops. They can broadcast the location of a stolen vehicle and owners can report it to the police.
  • Park in well-lit areas, putting the vehicle in a garage if possible and always activating the car’s security systems.
  • Report suspicious activity. “If you wake up at two in the morning and see people walking [neighbours’] driveways, they are very likely looking for vehicles,” Gast said. “Professional and organized crime groups are scouring areas, looking for vehicles where people are not taking these precautions. Supply chain issues are driving the market [for vehicles] not only nationally but internationally and that will continue to increase”.

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