Club steering wheel locks, faraday cages and Apple AirTags.

Those are just a few of the tools Toronto drivers have used in the last several years to protect their cars from theft, a crime so prevalent in the city that a vehicle was stolen every 40 minutes in 2023.

Now, Torontonians are looking to another device to stand between their vehicle and potential thieves—retractable bollards.

“They're going to be putting in three metal barriers, basically to make sure a thief will think twice before stealing one of my vehicles,” Larry Lau told CTV News as the vertical posts were installed at his Toronto home.

The design of the stainless steel posts is simple: users pull them up when they want to secure their car and push them down when they’re ready to drive.

“The only way the bollard can go back down is via the security key,” Achoy Ladrick, founder of Bollard Boys GTA, told CTV News as he and his team installed the posts at Lau’s residence.

“We haven't had any stolen vehicles after an installation,” co-founder Stephan Bordun added.

The posts themselves cost about $2,000 a piece and the Bollard Boys say they’ve been busy, receiving requests for service across North America and as far away as San Francisco.

Bollards have also been seen for sale at several Costco locations in the Greater Toronto Area as drivers get creative in their attempts to protect their cars in the face of pervasive auto theft.

According to the most recent Toronto Police Service (TPS) data, car theft in the city has increased year-over-year since 2019 and reached a height of 12,290 incidents in 2023, which equates to 34 vehicles a day or one theft every 40 minutes.

So far this year, the city has seen 4,492 incidents of auto theft.

Lau was one of those victims. His Range Rover was stolen from his driveway about a month ago.

Surveillance video of the theft shows a suspect entering his vehicle, just 45 minutes after he returned home from dinner. The luxury SUV was equipped with a club steering wheel lock, but the individual was able to dismantle it and get rid of the Apple AirTags Lau had installed.

Surveillance video

Police eventually recovered the SUV, only for it to be stolen again from the repair yard.

“What's happening in this city that something like that happens with such frequency?” Lau asked.

TPS is making progress in combatting auto theft in the city. In March, the force announced the seizure of 48 stolen vehicles and the laying of 150 charges in connection with two separate, but related, undercover investigations.

In 2023, TPS teamed up with the Ontario Provincial Police to launch the Provincial Carjacking Joint Task Force (PCJTF), which has resulted in more than 120 arrests, 730 charges and nearly 160 stolen vehicle recoveries.

Last month, the federal government outlined its so-called "national action plan" to combat auto thefts, including measures like stronger penalties for thieves, and increased information sharing between police agencies, government officials and border enforcement.

Have you turned to any novel approaches to prevent your vehicle from being stolen. CTV Toronto wants to hear from you. Send your tips to torontonews@bellmedia.ca.

With files from Adrian Ghobrial and Luca Caruso-Moro