York Regional Police revealed on Thursday morning that criminals have been stealing new-model SUVs from GTA residents' driveways with most of the stolen vehicles being shipped off to North Africa. The thefts reportedly began last year, and about 80 incidents have been reported. The lack of tracking equipment in the newer models of both Lexus and Toyota SUVs, as well as their high demand overseas, has reportedly made them a high-interest target for car thieves.
The thieves reportedly move quickly with thefts taking no longer than 10-15 minutes, York Police allege. The culprits use screwdrivers to gain access to the vehicles without triggering any alarms.
Once they gain access, the thieves then make use of an electronic device which allows them to reprogram the car. “This simple device can be purchased online and blocks access to the computer port where the thieves gain access to reprogram the vehicle’s keys,” reads the YRP news release.
According to the police, most of the thefts have occurred between midnight and 6:00 AM. Drivers should be on high alert if they own any of the following vehicles: Lexus RX350, Lexus GX460, Toyota 4Runner, and the Toyota Highlander.
Below is a video of one of the thefts released by the York Regional Police Auto/Cargo Theft Unit.
In a statement released this Thursday, police advised owners of the at-risk vehicles that their best option for protection is to store their cars in a secure garage. However, if a locked parking space is not an option, police recommend that residents install a lock on the data port on their vehicles which should prevent would-be thieves from gaining access.
Please share this video with everyone you know who owns a @Lexus or @ToyotaMotorCorp SUV. They are being targeted by thieves across the GTA. More than 80 have been stolen in our region over the past year. Please utilize the safety tips to prevent your vehicle from being stolen. pic.twitter.com/WPCSRPCbjn— York Regional Police (@YRP) February 7, 2019
Regardless, if you own a targeted vehicle model or not, all Torontonians should be on the lookout for the car thieves and report any sightings to the police.