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Theft of more Toyota Highlanders prompts warning from police

On May 29, two Highlanders were stolen from driveways on Arthur Fach Drive in Cambridge, bringing the total number stolen across the region this year to 29
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Do you own a Toyota Highlander? You might want to go check your driveway to make sure it's still there.

Waterloo Regional Police are issuing a warning this weekend as they say Toyota Highlanders are being targeted for thefts using relay and reprogramming technology in Cambridge and across the region.

In May, police say they received 12 reports of Highlanders being stolen across Waterloo Region.

As of June 2, a total of 29 Toyota Highlanders have been reported stolen in the region so far this year.

Recently, during the early morning hours of May 29, two Highlanders were stolen from driveways on Arthur Fach Drive in Cambridge.

Both vehicles were newer and had keyless entry and push-start technology, police say.

These types of thefts typically happen in the early morning hours, and entry to the vehicle is gained by breaking a rear window, police said in a news release.

Police are encouraging owners of Toyota Highlanders and other high-end vehicles, including Lexus and Land Rover SUVs and Ford and Dodge trucks, to consider theft prevention methods.

How does relay vehicle theft work? 

The thief will approach a residence and use technology to find a key fob signal. The technology allows car thieves outside a residence to amplify and transfer the key fob signal to unlock, start, and steal the vehicle. 

Police said the theft typically goes undetected until the morning when the owner goes to drive their vehicle... and it's not there. 

How does reprogramming vehicle theft work? 

Thieves will force entry into a vehicle. Once inside, they use an electronic device to access the vehicle's diagnostics. The thieves then reprogram a blank key fob so the vehicle can be started. 

How do you protect your vehicle from a relay or reprogramming theft? 

Police offered the following tips: 

  • Whenever possible, park your vehicle inside a locked and secure garage.
  • Block access to the onboard diagnostic port to prevent thieves from reprogramming the vehicle's key fob (a simple device can be purchased online). 
  • When not in use, place the vehicle key fob inside a radio frequency shielding bag/container to block cell signals.
  • Consider installing a third-party tracking device or immobilizer.
  • Ensure all keys are accounted for and never left in the vehicle.
  • Lock your vehicle at all times and remove valuables.
  • Consider purchasing a surveillance system and ensure the quality and function will capture any suspicious activity for a 24-hour period.

If you observe suspicious people looking into vehicles in your neighbourhood, call police. This will assist investigators in tracking patterns of criminal behaviour and potentially identifying suspects. 

A crime in progress can be reported by calling 911. 

Any non-emergency incidents can be reported by calling 519-570-9777.