Car theft has become an expensive problem for Canadian vehicle owners over the past few years, and shows no sign of slowing down. As police and car manufacturers try to keep up with new updates for protecting vehicles, car thieves continue to be one step ahead. The latest technique being utilized to steal vehicles has proven to be highly effective while inflicting the least amount of damage to the vehicle: hole drilling. In this article, we aim to help you understand what hole punch car robbery is, which vehicles are being targeted the most, and prevention methods to help keep your vehicle safe.

Canada’s serious car theft problem

Hundreds of vehicles have been recovered and more than 100 people have been charged in the latest Toronto Police Service investigation into car and catalytic converter thefts in the city this past April. The recovered vehicles have a combined value of more than $27 million, said Supt. Ron Taverner, the district commander for 22 and 23 divisions for Toronto Police. In 2022, almost 2,000 vehicles were stolen in the Toronto’s west end. Police say many of them were Honda CR-Vs and Ford F-150 trucks. The area also saw more than 300 catalytic converter thefts. In total, Toronto had more than 8,000 vehicles reported stolen in 2022. That number is up from about 5,600 stolen vehicles in 2021.  

Stealing, shipping and selling stolen vehicles is a low-risk way for criminals to make profit. It often finances other criminal activity, ranging from drug trafficking, arms dealing, people smuggling and international terrorism, according to INTERPOL.

“Canada is a source country. Other countries are targeting Canadian vehicles to be stolen, and its grown significantly in the last year. In 2022, it grew to over a billion dollars,” says Bryan Gast, Associate Director of International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI). In response to the growing crisis, the Ontario government recently announced an investment of more than $50 million to combat auto theft by helping police identify and dismantle what it described as “organized crime networks.”

What is ‘hole punch car robbery’?

Thieves have been utilizing a new method to break into your vehicle to steal valuables inside without your noticing it has happened. Hole punch car robbery requires thieves to punch a hole in the door in order to unlock the door. Drilling right under the door handle, thieves can open the door just as if they have a key. Car thieves can bypass the alarm system by working the door-opening mechanism without triggering the sensors. Some robbers may also cut the electronics to stop the vehicle from issuing a noisy alert. The goal for thieves is to leave everything looking untouched. They don’t want you to notice that your wallet or even a single card is missing. Thieves want as much time as possible so they can spend money on your bank cards without you noticing right away.

Additionally, car thieves are drilling holes into the window glass directly above the car’s lock. This helps them quickly lift and unlock your vehicle in a short period of time, to then gain access to steal it.

If your car has been targeted by thieves using hole-drilling, it’s a good idea to replace the keys for the vehicle. Many thieves can engineer duplicate keys.

OBD port hacking

With the popularity of keyless entry growing by the day, criminals have latched onto a convenient form of entry to devastating effect. The OBD (on-board diagnostics) port is used by technicians to investigate the diagnostics of a car. It can find the source of any warning lights displayed by your car’s on-board computers. Thieves can plug coding into the OBD to set about controlling the functions of the car. By doing so, thieves can disable alarms and unlock doors. Within seconds, engines can be started once an encryption device has been plugged in; simulating a key entering the car’s ignition. Workshops and specialists use this equipment routinely to encrypt keyless entry. Criminals are acquiring these devices so that they can maliciously re-program keys for an easier method of car robbery.

Most targeted makes and models of car theft in Ontario

According to the IBC, Honda makes 3 of the 10 most commonly stolen vehicles. At the top of that list is the Honda CR-V 2018. Ontario suffers from 33% of all auto thefts in the country!

Here are the top 10 most stolen vehicles in Canada for 2022:

  1. 2016-2021 Honda CR-V
  2. 2016-2021 Lexus RX Series
  3. 2015-2020 Ford F-150 Series
  4. 2016-2021 Honda Civic
  5. 2013-2019 Toyota Highlander
  6. 2011-2018 Dodge RAM 1500 Series
  7. 1999-2006 Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/Sierra 1500
  8. 2018-2021 Honda Accord
  9. 2011-2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee
  10. 2013-2018 Toyota RAV4

In the case of Dodge Ram and F-150 trucks, thieves have a method of entering the cab by drilling a single small hole in the side window to pop the lock.

Preventative measures for car theft in Ontario

1. The Faraday pouch

Many potential car thieves can gain access to your vehicle by an antennae device that picks up your key fob signal. Car fobs sends out an electronic signal regularly. However, the Faraday pouch can block its radio frequency. Always keep Faraday bags at the far end of the house, away from the front door. Thieves can’t pick up the signal the further it is from your vehicle parked outside. Peel Police reports a 92% rise in vehicle thefts in 2022 since 2019.  In response, Brampton Mayor, Patrick Brown, pushed for a pilot project to give out thousands of free Faraday bags to residents in an attempt to protect them from rising levels of auto theft. “A Faraday bag is a $6 item that can protect a $60,000 car from being stolen in less than 60 seconds,” Brown says.

2. Video telematics devices

It’s not just car manufacturers who are trying to come up with ways to stop people from stealing vehicles. Security companies are designing technology to help deter, or at least identify, thieves. Raven Connected offers a video telematics device that connects to the vehicle’s internal computer. When the device detects motion, a camera that sits on the dashboard records and transmits the images and video to an application on your cell phone. The device also transmits a GPS signal so the user can track the vehicle. “Having that real-time visibility to the front and cabin-facing camera makes a really big difference,” says Travis Gray, Director of Business Development for Raven Connected. Gray states that owners are able to track the car, as well as capture videos and images, that they can share with local police.

Attach a wifi-tracking device on the vehicle to assist police with its recovery if your car is stolen. 

Besides video telematics devices, there are other ways that police recommend to help prevent car theft:

  • Get a steering wheel lock or an automatic engine shut-off
  • Cover or block your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) when parked
  • Store vehicle keys or fobs away from the windows and doors of your home
  • If you have a second vehicle, park it directly behind the more targeted one

It’s a serious problem,” says David Adams, President & CEO of Global Automakers of Canada. Adams says, “The reality is, every time vehicle manufacturers put in place mechanisms to try and thwart vehicle theft, thieves are essentially almost one step ahead.” There is no denying that the advancements in automobiles has made our lives much more convenient when it comes to driving. However, it is important for us to remember that it can also cause corruption when it comes to car theft. We all need to remain vigilant about protecting ourselves and our vehicles. Try implementing some of the strategies in this article to help protect your investment!

If your car has been stolen or you would like to submit a claim, contact isure today. We strive to help our clients find the best auto insurance rates in Ontario, including OttawaMississauga, and Toronto. Get a quote online or call us at 1-877-660-3501!

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