York police issue warning about thefts of Lexus and Toyota SUVs
A suspect is shown breaking into a vehicle parked in a York Region driveway in this surveillance camera image. (York Regional Police)
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Thursday, February 7, 2019 10:25AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 7, 2019 10:29AM EST
York Regional Police say that more than 80 newer-model SUVs have been stolen from residential driveways over the last year with most of them bound for North Africa.
Police say that the thieves have sought out newer-model Lexus and Toyota SUVs, which “have no tracking capability from the manufacturer or dealership” and are in high demand overseas.
They say that in most of the thefts the thieves have used screwdrivers or other tools to gain access to the vehicle without setting off an alarm. Once inside, they use an electronic device that mechanics typically use to reprogram the factory settings on the vehicle. That device, police say, allows them to program a key that they bring with them to start the vehicle.
Police say that the whole process takes about 10 to 20 minutes. After that, police say that the vehicles are driven away and eventually loaded into shipping containers bound for North Africa.
In a news release issued on Thursday, police said that residents should park their vehicles in a locked garage if possible. Failing that, police said that residents can install a lock on their vehicle’s data port to prevent thieves from gaining access to it.
“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,” the release notes.
Police say that most of the thefts have taken place between midnight and 6 a.m. They say that the most commonly targeted vehicles include the Lexus RX350, the Lexus GX460, the Toyota 4Runner and the Toyota Highlander.