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This new tool could keep your vehicle from being stolen

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On Thursday night, Brandon Perra left a restaurant at Fairview Mall in Pointe-Claire and realized he didn't have a ride.

His 2023 Toyota Highlander had been stolen.

Perra was able to track his car with an app on his phone and directed police to a garage in Cote-des-Neiges where the app said his vehicle was located. But the app wasn't enough to find it.

"Police officers went on site but didn't find any trace of the car," said Montreal police (SPVM) spokesperson Veronique Dubuc.

Perra's case remains open, but Montreal police and other departments are recommending a new tool that may have stopped his vehicle from being stolen in the first place.

Police departments, including the SPVM, are recommending installing an OBD (onboard diagnostic) protector lock that blocks access to your vehicle's OBD port and prevents theft by hacking the onboard computer.

The OBD port is universal and gives access to the vehicle's onboard computer, which thieves can use to reprogram the vehicle's keys. It is typically located under the dashboard wheel. Mechanics use the port to program the vehicle's computer and read sensors.

An OBD lock costs around $200 and can be installed in a few minutes by screwing the lock over the port. When it is installed, it will take a would-be thief valuable time to break or drill the lock.

In addition, the SPVM recommends storing car key fobs or keys in a box that blocks its signal use or using the classic Club wheel lock to deter would-be thieves. 

The insurance broker ThinkInsure said vehicles using keyless fobs are a common target, "because thieves use radio frequency amplifiers to capture the fob signal and extend it to the vehicle. Avoid leaving keyless fobs near front doors and park in a garage when possible."

The following are some other tips:

  • Use an immobilizer, alarm, and tracking system
  • Park your vehicle in a well-lit area
  • Never leave your keys with strangers (valets, parking attendants, etc.)
  • Do not leave documents with your address on them in your vehicle, to prevent theft from your home
  • Do not leave your vehicle running unattended, even for a few minutes.

The SPVM said drivers get get a $30 fine for leaving their vehicle running without removing keys or locking doors.  

VEHICLE THEFT SHARPLY RISING

Vehicle thefts are on a steep rise in Montreal. 

According to the SPVM's activity report, vehicle thefts increased over 90 per cent between 2018 and 2022. 

Pre-pandemic, there were under 4,900 vehicle thefts between 2017 and 2019. In 2021, the SPVM reported 6,527 thefts and there were 9,583 thefts in 2022.

Perra's Highlander is among the most popular vehicles to steal in the province. 

According to ThinkInsure, the top ten vehicles stolen in Quebec are the following:

  • Honda CR-V
  • Acura RDX
  • Honda Civic
  • Dodge RAM 1500 Series
  • Jeep Wrangler
  • Toyota RAV 4
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Ford F150 Series
  • Hyundai Tuscon

Perra's Highlander is the fifth most targeted vehicle in Canada.

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