Auto theft has always been an issue, but it’s soared in recent years, thanks to technology.
“It’s a systemic problem that we’re seeing not just in Barrie but all across the province,” said Barrie Police Const. Kiera Brooks.
Police say thieves are using a radio signal from keyless fobs, which override a vehicle’s computer system, giving them access to drive it away.
“We do believe that it is an organized crime that is conducting these thefts of motor vehicles, where they are working in pairs to walk around neighbourhoods and check on motor vehicles,” says Brooks.
The constable reports that 26 vehicles have already been stolen this year in Barrie alone.
“We have just seen several Dodge Rams, [and] F150s stolen just recently,” she adds.
On Thursday, Barrie police, Crime Stoppers and GardaWorld, a security service provider, hosted a community crime prevention event at a local Tim Hortons.
They handed out key fob pouch protectors to spread awareness to those at the drive-thru.
“When the key fobs are placed into the back of the pouch, it’s reinforced copper that blocks any type of RFID signal from escaping the pouch,” says Jason Lyall, KYCS vice president of Special Markets.
“If we reduce crime in our community, it’s going to be better for everyone. So it really is important that we get those people to come forward with information,” adds Tamar Spina, board member of Crimestoppers Simcoe-Dufferin-Muskoka.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) says that vehicle thefts overall have gone up tremendously in Ontario. Since 2016, IBC reports $250 million worth had been stolen.
“If insurance companies keep paying out these amounts in claims, it’s likely rates are going to go up, because as claim costs go up, so do the cost for insurance overall,” says Anne Marie Thomas, IBC.
Police want to remind the public to ensure their vehicles are locked, keys are securely stowed away from the door, and not leave any valuables in your car.