Thieves targeting new vehicles in Ottawa driveways this summer and fall, police warn

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Ottawa police are warning vehicle owners that Lexus and Toyota vehicles are not the only wheels being targeted by thieves in driveways this year.

Over 240 thefts of cars, SUVs and light trucks have been reported so far to Ottawa police this year.

Police say newer models of Honda CRV, Grand Jeep Cherokee and Ford F-series trucks have been targeted by thieves in August and September.

"The trend is no longer limited to Lexus/Toyota products," said police in a statement late Wednesday afternoon.

"It is expanding to include the thefts of all makes and models of vehicles that are equipped with a proximity key (i.e. push-button start)."

In some cases, garbage bags have been used to cover sideview mirrors and taillights to mask the perimeter lights during the vehicle break-in.

Ottawa police say 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. Police say this is the most common type of vehicle theft and is not deterred by the use of a Radio Frequency Shield (known as a 'Faraday bag/box')."
  2. The Signal Amplification Relay Attack. Thieves use an amplification device to amplify the signal emanating from the key fob inside the house. Police say 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)," said police.