Car thieves have stolen more than 100 Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the Ottawa region so far this year using a new tech-savvy method.
According to the CBC, thieves are using a radio signal booster to increase the signal of the vehicles' electronic key fobs to start the vehicles while they are parked in the owners' driveways. The vehicles are then put in shipping containers to be sent off to Africa and the Middle East, where they can be sold for a larger profit. Some of the most commonly targeted vehicles include the Toyota 4Runner and Toyota Tacoma, though large Lexus SUVs like the GX have been reported stolen as well.
Thieves may also be breaking into vehicles and plugging a device into their OBD2 diagnostic ports to start the vehicles and drive off into the night, the CBC report indicates.
It's not just owners being targeted, either. Police recently managed to recover seven new Toyota trucks and SUVs that were stolen from a Toyota dealer in Petawawa, Ont., several weeks prior. The vehicles were found in shipping containers just before they were to be shipped off overseas.
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The recent rash of thefts may force owners to get creative to avoid having their vehicles stolen. While Toyota suggests owners park their vehicles in a garage, the automaker says they may also want to consider getting a frequency shielding "Faraday pouch" to prevent the key fob's signal from being boosted. Some have resorted to leaving their key fobs in the stove or microwave to achieve the same effect, or wrapping the fob in tinfoil.
Until police can get to the bottom of the problem, Toyota and Lexus owners in Ontario may want to take extra steps to prevent their cars from being stolen. In addition to parking their cars indoors and taking measures to put a damper the key fob's radio signal, they may also want to consider buying an aftermarket security system and/or parking a less desirable vehicle behind the vehicle in the driveway.