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Ontario police reveal how some thieves have been able to steal so many luxury cars

Car thieves and police are duking it out in a technological arms race, criminals using an evolving set of high-tech tools to abscond with your ride. The York Regional Police Auto/Cargo Theft Unit is now warning of yet another new method being used by car thieves to track and steal luxury vehicles.

Designed as a key-finder, Apple's AirTag has been repurposed for a more nefarious use, with police reporting that criminals are attaching these tracking devices to high-end vehicles parked in public locations, tagging them for later location and theft.

Cops have investigated five incidents since September, where the AirTags were placed in hard-to-see places on cars parked in high-traffic locations so they could be tracked and later stolen from driveways.

After scoping out a vehicle, car thieves typically gain access using something as low-tech as a screwdriver. Though once inside, they have tools that can quickly reprogram a car to factory settings, allowing them to use a fake key and drive off without any of the fancy wire-cutting work seen in television and movies.

York Region recorded over 2,000 vehicle thefts over the past year, though only about 350 vehicles have been recovered and just over 100 arrested. The numbers are only rising as thieves' methods grow more advanced, and cops struggle to keep up.

Police have offered a list of safety tips that can help keep your ride out of thieves' crosshairs. Most importantly, it's recommended that you park your car in a locked garage, as most targeted vehicles are nabbed from driveways.

Cops also recommend drivers invest in a steering wheel lock (80s and 90s kids will remember the nonstop commercials for The Club) which also serves as a visible deterrent to would-be car thieves.

Installing a lock on your car's data port is another critical measure, a means tech-savvy thieves use to plug in reprogram a vehicle's keys. This was a key method used by a crime ring busted earlier this fall in York Region.

Other recommendations include the suggestion to install a video surveillance system and regularly inspect your car for tracking devices.

Lead photo by

York Regional Police


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