Sharp increase of vehicle thefts in Ottawa –protect your vehicle

The Ottawa Police would like to advise residents of a noted sharp increase of vehicle thefts over the last month where thieves mainly target newer models Honda CRV (SUV).  Over 230 vehicle thefts have been reported so far this year compared to half that number for the same period in 2021.

In the last two weeks alone, a total of 21 Honda CRV were reported stolen. “We have noted a shift in trends regarding vehicle thefts as we are now seeing a sudden spike in CRV thefts from owner driveways and more vehicles being taken from car dealerships outside their hours of operation, ” said Detective Doug Belanger of the Central Criminal Investigation Unit.  These thefts are not limited to Honda/Acura products.  They are expanding to include all makes and models of vehicles that are equipped with a proximity key (i.e. push-button start).

Newer models of Dodge Durango, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota Highlanders, Lexus RX as well as Ford F-Series trucks (higher trim level) have been targeted by thieves in Ottawa since the beginning of the year.  Owners of high theft vehicles are encouraged to report attempted vehicle thefts to police, including incidents where there is no damage to the vehicle, but factory key fobs no longer work

Vehicle thefts generally occur in one of two ways: 

  1. The driver-side door is mechanically breached – at which point thieves access the vehicle’s Engine Control Module (ECM) port to reprogram a new key. This remains the most common type of vehicle theft and it is not deterred by the use of a Radio Frequency Shield (known as a ‘Faraday bag/box’.)
  1. The Signal Amplification Relay Attack (SARA) is not a common technique in Ottawa – however; police continue to raise public awareness about this means where thieves use an amplification device to amplify the signal emanating from the key fob inside the house. That signal is then relayed to the car which unlocks the vehicle and allows it to be started. This type of theft will be deterred by the use of a Radio Frequency Shield (the Faraday bag/box.)

 Vehicle owners are encouraged to consider the following prevention measures: 

  • Park inside a garage if available (in Ottawa, no vehicle was stolen from inside a garage);
  • Block your vehicle in tightly against a second less sought after vehicle;
  • Use a steering wheel lock (i.e. “Club”) to deter thieves (keep in mind they can cut the steering wheel to remove it);
  • Install an Engine Control Module (ECM) port lock;
  • Install an after-market vehicle immobilizer and alarm;
  • Install after-market tracking devices or “GPS” –  many of these have the ability to “fence in your car” notifying the owner’s smart phone if the vehicle leaves the established perimeter;
  • Install motion detection lights and exterior surveillance cameras at home – these can act as a deterrent;
  • Keep in mind that thieves have returned to steal the replacement vehicle when a vehicle had been stolen, so remain vigilant;
  • Neighbourhood watch is still the best defense – so please report any suspicious activity immediately to police at 613-236-1222.

 More tips are available online.


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