Car keys
A Toronto police officer recommended local residents to leave their car keys near their front door as thieves only want their car. Amit Dave/Reuters

A police officer from Toronto has offered unique advice to local residents regarding the protection of vehicles amidst a rise in auto theft-related home invasions.

Auth theft has become a major issue in the Canadian capital as city statistics shows that in 2023, there were nearly 12,000 car thefts. This equated to over 30 thefts per day and was an increase of more than 2000 from the year prior.

Also, the 2023 figure was more than double the amount of car theft incidents in 2019 (5197).

Const. Marco Ricciardi attended a community gathering a few weeks ago at the Etobicoke Civic Centre, where he advised that locals should place their car keys inside a Faraday pouch near their front door.

Explaining the thinking behind this advice, Ricciardi said: "To prevent the possibility of being attacked in your home, leave your fobs at your front door. Because they're breaking into your home to steal your car. They don't want anything else."

Last year, police in the area of York Region planned for over 16,000 Faraday bags to be handed out to residents with keyless fobs, however they advised that people leave their fobs away from the front of their properties.

Residents were not totally convinced with Ricciardi's proposals as whilst it could prevent residents from any dangerous interactions with thieves, it would seemingly just make it easier for thieves to make an attempt at stealing somebody's car.

Now, the Toronto Police Service has released a statement to sway residents away from Ricciardi's advice. It read: "An officer at a recent community meeting suggested that people leave the keys to their vehicle in a faraday bag by the front door. While well-meaning, there are better ways to prevent auto theft-motivated home invasions."

The city's police force offered its own tips for people keeping themselves and their vehicles safe, advising that cars be parked in their garage and that the driveway is lit up. Also, they recommended that security cameras, home security systems and a motion detection alarm connected to a mobile phone is all in place.

The Toronto Police go on to state any suspicious behaviour within a neighbourhood should be reported and that it is not wise for residents to post on social media when away on holiday.

Canada's Justice Minister position has been targeted in this auto theft surge in recent years. Current Justice Minister, Arif Virani, had his government-owned 2021 Toyota Highlander XLE stolen last November, before it eventually was recovered.

This same car was previously stolen and found earlier in 2023 when David Lametti was in the role. Lametti also had his 2019 Toyota Highlander stolen in February 2021, but that was never recovered.

People with keyless fobs are particularly vulnerable to having their vehicles stolen as the main function of keyless cars is that they automatically unlock itself when the fob is in close distance to it and it locks when the fob moves further away. This makes it convenient for people when entering and leaving their vehicle.

However, this can often lead to thieves targeting these cars parked outside houses as they will look to boost the signals of a fob so that the range from it extends and the door unlocks as it is manipulated into thinking the fob is close by.

Auth theft can also occur by thieves waiting for someone to leave a keyless vehicle as they can block the fob's signal so that the door does not lock when the driver is walking away from the car.

Ultimately, the sharp rise in auto theft led to Toronto Police and the Ontario Provincial Police forming and co-leading the Provincial Carjacking Joint Task Force towards the latter part of 2023.

There was success from this initiative as Project Mamba busted a criminal group that were storing 52 stolen cars which worth above $3.2 million. The vehicles were stolen from residents in the York Region and southwest Ontario, with the aim of being shipped to places such as Georgia and Azerbaijan.

The task force was able to arrest close to 100 criminals whilst 550 charges were handed out.