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burglar attempting car theft by opening window of a vehicle with screw driver

How to Prevent Car Theft

Car theft is becoming a real problem in Ontario. With the advancements in technology and the value of vehicles being at an all time high there is an increasing number of reported car thefts. To make matters worse the bad guys are becoming more and more sophisticated. Thieves are now able to break into and steal a vehicle in under 30 seconds. We want to reduce the likelihood that you are a victim to car theft with our tips below.

Protect Your Keys

Vehicle keys have come a long way over the past several decades. Older vehicles may still require a key in the door handle to unlock and key in the ignition to start. Most vehicles can now be opened or unlocked through a remote key fob. Many vehicles can now also be started with the tough of a button. Keyless entry is becoming the new norm but it has made stealing your vehicle easier for thieves.

Key fobs use a signal that contacts your vehicles computer what to do. This signal, when in the appropriate proximity of the vehicle, tells the computer what to do (unlock the car, start the engine, pop the trunk, etc) and the car responds. Unfortunately the physical key fob is not the only tool that can be used to send those signals. Criminals are now using relay boxes to pick up signals emitted by a vehicle and your key fob. They can trigger the vehicle computer to unlock and even start the vehicle.

Keeping your keys in a safe place, whether they are older keys or new keyless entry fobs, is important to reduce the chance of your vehicle being stolen. Do not leave your keys in your car! If you have a key fob it is best to store them away from your vehicle or the front of your house (I know how inconvenient). If you want to go a step further you can store your keys in a faraday bag which isolates your fobs signal and prevents it from being copied.

Park in a Private Garage or Monitored Building

Obviously not everyone has access to a private garage or monitored parking lot or building. However, if you do have access to a garage it greatly reduces the likelihood of car theft. Not only does it ensure that your vehicle is out of sight, it adds another barrier that potential thieves have to figure out.

Use Motion Activated Outdoor Lights

If you are parking your vehicle in a driveway or on the street it can be very useful to install motion activated outdoor lights and park your vehicle within the lights range. Certainly these light can be triggered by many different things such as animals. However, if a would-be-thief is attempting to steal your vehicle and lights from outside your home are automatically turned on they may flee the scene in fear of being caught. If you are parking your vehicle on the street you may not have the option to have your own motion activated outdoor lights installed. If that is the case try and park your vehicle in a well-lit area or near street lights.

Install Security Cameras

Security cameras can be a good decision to install for many reasons. Not only are security cameras useful to protect your home, they can also be useful in protecting your vehicle. Visible cameras can deter potential criminals from committing a theft. If they do steal the vehicle it can be useful to provide this information to local authorities to try and recover the vehicle. Many security cameras can now also alert you in real time about suspicious activities through your smart phone.

Protect Your Smart Phone

This is how far the technology has come but now many vehicles have custom built apps that can be installed on a smart phone. These apps can be used to control your vehicle similar to a key fob but without the need for one. They can unlock them, start them, and more from anywhere with data or WiFi signals. Why is this important? If someone gets access to your phone or is able to hack into the operating system they can control your vehicle as well. You should always have a password to protect your device so if someone gets your phone they cannot operate it without the password or pin. Using face ID or finger prints is a further form of security.

Install a Tag Anti-Theft Device

Tag Anti-Theft Devices are used to quickly recover stolen vehicles. Several small Tag devices are placed throughout the vehicle in discreet places. The Tag solution does not use GPS coordinates for tracking your vehicle as they can easily be blocked by criminals. Instead they use a highly robust and secure communication protocol that communicates to their own centralized monitoring system. If your vehicle is stolen you contact the Tag team and they dispatch their own tracking team. Authorities must be notified separately. For more information visit: Tag Tracking.

Top Vehicles Stolen in Ontario

According to Aviva Insurance the top vehicles stolen in Ontario in the last year are:

  • Ford F-150 series
  • Ram 1500 series
  • Honda CR-V series
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Lexus RX350
  • Range Rover

Toronto and the GTA have become a hotspot for vehicle thefts. However, the most common car theft area in Canada is located in Montreal. Please be extra careful if travelling to Montreal in a vehicle (whether it is your own vehicle or a rental).

Car thefts are on the rise, but with these tips you can rest easy knowing the bad guys won’t be getting your vehicle. For the best protection make sure you contact a broker at McDougall Insurance & Financial for your auto insurance needs. Our experts will walk you through an auto insurance policy that will help protect you against car theft and much more! Get a quote today.


8 thoughts on How to Prevent Car Theft

    It’s alarming to see car thefts becoming more prevalent, but these insightful tips offer a reassuring solution. Vigilance is key – from parking in well-lit areas to using steering wheel locks. Additionally, partnering with professionals like McDougall Insurance & Financial ensures a comprehensive safety net. Their expertise in crafting auto insurance policies tailored to thwart car theft is a game-changer. With their guidance, safeguarding your vehicle against theft and other risks becomes a seamless process. Stay one step ahead of potential thieves and enjoy peace of mind on the road by implementing these suggestions and seeking the support of reliable experts.


    This is not rocket science, simply put an ignition key back in the cars and trucks, you can have a fob to unlock doors but you need the key to start it ( problem solved )


    McDougall, you also need to proof-read your replies before you hit ‘enter’. In your reply dated Aug. 3rd, 2023; 12:30pm you made a classic grammatical error by using the wrong word. You used the word ‘there’ instead of ‘their’ which is subjective since it relates back to ‘manufacturers’ in your previous sentence.

    1 Reply

    Thank you, we have updated the reply!

    I recently purchased a new vehicle and I looked into faraday bags and reviews say they really don’t work well? Some say they had their fob in the faraday bag and could still unlock the doors. Anyway, my vehicle came with a Compustar ignition defeat key fob. It works like the regular key fobs we used to have (the ones that only worked when button is pressed) and when used, defeats the ignition. That way even if my main fob is cloned, the thieves can’t start the car. Only I can start it by using the same key fob to defeat it. This seems to be a better way. Btw, when I told my McDougall insurance about it, they said there is no incentive to get it? I’m of the opinion it should be acknowledged somehow.


    Maybe vehicle manufacturers need to do a better job of designing fobs and onboard computers to prevent them from being hacked. We know that’s not necessarily in their best interest however because stolen cars mean more new car sales.

    1 Reply

    Yes we agree, it would be nice for the manufactures to design vehicles with better security. However, their incentive at this time is minimal. Hopefully that changes.

    Thank you McDougal team. as always helpful & timely information, much appreciated. we would hope more is done in ports before stolen vehicles loaded & left the country as most of these vehicles, according to press , find quite unrestricted ways to far away countries.
    it appears the stolen vehicles are pretty easy to ship & sell , otherwise , there would be no such high demand for theft. It has to be well organized crime involving people working on many steps to turn around operation of this scale that we are reading about for a while now.
    Someone in a family was a victim of this crime over 30 years ago, we lived in a different country then, before sofisticated technology, thieves simply managed to get a copy of an old fashion key. It feels terrible when this happens. Anna


    Edit your articles before publishing. Noticed at least three spelling errors/wrong words. For instance “opening the truk” instead of opening the “trunk”

    1 Reply

    Thank you for noticing Richard! We have updated.

    thank you for this note on car theft. much appreciated.

    where does one find Faraday bags for fobs?

    1 Reply
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