TORONTO — A new report says thieves are setting their sights on older-model Ford trucks and high-end SUVs as the number of automotive thefts rose again last year.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada said Tuesday in its annual list of the most frequently stolen vehicles that the Ford F250 and F350 trucks dominated the list of most stolen vehicles in 2017.
In Ontario, Chevrolet dominated the list, including older model Tahoes and Silverados. In Quebec, the most stolen vehicle was the 2017 Acura MDX, while in Atlantic Canada the Nissan Maxima was the top pick.
Henry Tso, the board's vice-president of investigative services, said thieves are going after older model trucks because they have less sophisticated security measures.
"Usually you need the card key information to get the diagnostic to start the car. A lot of the older vehicles, it doesn't have that, so once you have a key cut you can start the vehicle."
Thieves are, however, targeting newer vehicles that have key fobs through a technique known as a relay attack, where they use a device to remotely pick up the radio signal coming from the fob to unlock and start the car.
"Right now it's just trending up right now, it's fairly new," said Tso.
To prevent the relay attack, vehicle owners should consider keeping their fob in what's known as a Faraday sleeve or pouch, which blocks the radio signals, he said.
Many drivers, however, would do well to simply not leave their keys in their vehicles. In Alberta, about 25 per cent of thefts occurred when the keys were in the car, often to keep the vehicle warm, said Tso.
"It's easily preventable, the 25 per cent, all they have to do is be a little colder in their vehicle."
Alberta also saw the most thefts, making up about 25,000 of the 85,000 vehicles stolen in 2017 for a nationwide increase of about six per cent.
New Brunswick saw the sharpest rise in thefts with a 28 per cent jump, with Ontario seeing a 15 per cent increase.
The board says New Year's Day is the most common time for vehicles to be stolen.
But, it says vehicles are often smuggled outside the country, sold to unsuspecting consumers, scrapped for parts or used to commit another crime with organized crime rings usually involved.
The Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada says crime groups involved in auto thefts operate primarily out of Montreal and Toronto.
The Canadian Press