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OPP warns of trackers placed on vehicles in eastern Ontario

An Ontario Provincial Police logo is shown during a press conference in Barrie, Ont., on Wednesday, April 3, 2019. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) says two people near Cornwall made the same unsettling discovery within a 24-hour period: a tracking device had been placed on their vehicles without their knowledge. 

Both received notifications that an Apple AirTag tracker was trying to connect to their iPhones, according to OPP Inspector Marc Hemmerick of the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry detachment.

The problem: neither owned such devices.

“They both noticed that AirTag devices had been placed in hidden areas on their vehicles,” he said Wednesday.

According to the SDG detachment, the first report was made on March 4 just before 1:30 p.m. by a resident from the North Stormont Township.

She found the tracker in her fuse box under the hood of her Jeep Wrangler. It had been parked in a public place in Montreal the previous evening and overnight, police said.

“They’re studying people’s habits, patterns, determining the best time to take the vehicles.” – David Corak, owner of car security company

The second was by a man in South Stormont Township on March 5, just before 1 a.m. He found the AirTag under his Toyota Rav 4’s hood after it dinged his phone while he was driving.

Hemmerick said luxury cars are most often targeted in cases like this, with Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep products topping the lists. He said high-end Toyota vehicles are also targetted — particularly the Toyota Highlander.

“I can tell you that we have seen an uptick in the vehicles that are being stolen and recovered,” the inspector said.

It’s not the first time he’s seen AirTags or other trackers placed on vehicles in his area.

“They’re studying people’s habits, patterns,” said David Corak, who owns the Brampton-based car security company DC Unlimited, “determining the best time to take the vehicles.”

Car thefts in Ontario have “almost become an epidemic,” he said.

“They do all their research before, whether they’re using air tags or just scoping the vehicles around — physically watching them.” 

“And then once they strike it could be as quick as three to six minutes.”

Thefts up in Ottawa, elsewhere

More than 1,200 vehicles were reported stolen in 2022 in Ottawa.

During the past five years, the number of vehicles stolen annually in Ottawa has roughly doubled.

In 2022, a spike in vehicle thefts was also seen across the GTA.

Ottawa police didn’t comment on whether AirTags or similar tracking devices had been used in the capital.

The OPP’s press release on the two incidents in eastern Ontario recommends motorists park their cars in a garage, out of sight, possibly with a less valuable vehicle blocking it in.

Police also recommend using a device that can block a vehicle’s Onboard Diagnostic port (OBD) from being accessed. They warn that unprotected OBDs can be used to reprogram a car’s ignition system.

GPS trackers, alarms systems, or steering wheel locking devices can also be helpful, police say, as well as a slew of other anti-theft devices.

Technology double-edged sword

The OPP also recommends vehicle owners leave AirTags of their own inside their rides as a way to track them if stolen.

“While thieves continue to use technology to assist in stealing high-end vehicles, you as the owner can respond using the same tools,” it states.

Corak said AirTags have their limitations, and can also be detected on the cellular devices of potential thieves.

He recommends a device called IGLA that prevents a car from starting, even with keys, without a code being punched in.

Jeff Bates, owner of Lockdown Security in Markham, said many stolen vehicles from southern Ontario eventually end up in the port of Montreal before they’re shipped across the Atlantic Ocean.

The increase in cars that start without keys has created loopholes that thieves have exploited, he said. But anti-theft techniques have also increased in complexity.

“It is very much a double-edged sword,” he said.

The OPP’s investigation into the two incidents is ongoing.

Credit belongs to : ca.news.yahoo.com

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