Chances are, if you’ve been living in or around Ottawa in recent years, hearing that car theft is soaring at record rates won’t come as a surprise.
By the end of December, approximately 1,200 vehicles had been stolen in the city in 2022, according to Statistics Canada. That number has doubled over the past five years — and, unfortunately, the trend is continuing in 2023, with nearly 80 vehicles reported stolen in January.
“We are seeing more mainstream brands being stolen, like Honda CR-Vs and Toyota Corollas,” said William Skorupinski, vice-president of automotive and mobility services with the Canadian Automobile Association (North & East Ontario). “Once the car has left your driveway, most of these vehicles wind up in a shipping container and are sent overseas for a profit in very short order.”
‘We are seeing more mainstream brands being stolen, like Honda CR-Vs and Toyota Corollas. Once the car has left your driveway, most of these vehicles wind up in a shipping container and are sent overseas for a profit in very short order.’— William Skorupinski, vice-president, Canadian Automobile Association (North & East Ontario)
This is likely the case for Orléan’s resident Rassami Raymore-Latmore and her 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee. “I think it was just the brand paired with the fact we hadn’t moved our car out of the driveway for three days. … And yes, it’s a touch start,” said Raymore-Latmore.
The SUV was stolen in October after being parked in the driveway for much longer than usual while she and her husband were home sick with COVID-19.
The thieves worked swiftly and stealthily. Even with Raymore-Latmore’s bedroom windows open and overlooking the driveway, neither she nor her husband heard any noise.
The following morning, in keeping with her regular morning routine, Raymore-Latmore opened her phone to check her security cameras, only to find out they had been compromised through a method called jamming.
“I knew something was wrong, so I looked out the window, and boom, the car was gone.”
So how does keyless car theft work? According to Julie Beun, the director of communications at CAA North and East Ontario, your vehicle and key fob communicate using low-power radio signals.
These signals only work when the fob is within a metre of the car door or ignition start/stop button.
Thieves use special equipment that amplifies the communication signals called a relay hack.
The relay hack is used between vehicles and smart fobs, significantly extending the system’s effective range.
This can trick the car into thinking the fob is next to the car door or the trunk when it is somewhere else, allowing the vehicle to be unlocked and started.
With the rise in sophisticated car theft, police and car manufacturers are stuck playing catch up, as old-fashioned tips such as simply “locking your car” no longer suffice.
Beun shares some top deterrence methods to give keyless car owners the best chance against theft, much of which requires third-party anti-theft installations. (See infographic)
‘I knew something was wrong, so I looked out the window, and boom, the car was gone.’— Rassami Raymore-Latmore, Orléans resident and car-theft victim
The Ottawa Police Service also offers advice aimed at thwarting car theft.
“Vehicle theft is not only a property crime. People feel violated and victimized as they realize someone has been on their property and has stolen their vehicle(s) containing their personal items,” states the OPS website. “We work in partnership with other police agencies and the Insurance Bureau of Canada to dismantle criminal networks operating in Ottawa and beyond.”
For Raymore-Latmore, installing a secondary alarm system in her new jeep was still not enough to bring her peace of mind. “My anxiety was so high that I had my husband drive everywhere with me and just wait in the car.”
An additional instillation of an alarm kill switch has allowed Raymore-Latmore to trust that she has taken enough steps to prevent another car theft.
But she still won’t risk leaving her car in her driveway for a half-hour now without checking on it. “With the amount of stolen vehicles in Orléans especially, I don’t understand why more isn’t being done.”
Leave a Reply