Police Issue Warning as Toyota Highlanders Targeted for Theft

Toyota Highlander

Waterloo Region, Ontario – Waterloo Regional Police are issuing a warning as Toyota Highlanders continue to be targeted for thefts using relay and reprogramming technology across the Region.

In May 2023, WRPS received 12 reports of Toyota Highlanders being stolen from locations throughout Waterloo Region. The theft of Toyota Highlanders locally, and across the province, has been identified as a growing trend throughout 2023. As of June 2, 2023, 29 Toyota Highlanders have been reported stolen in Waterloo Region.

Recently, during the early morning hours of May 29, 2023, two Highlanders were stolen by unknown suspects from the driveways of homes on Arthur Fach Drive in Cambridge.

Both of the vehicles were newer and have keyless entry and push-started technology. 

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

Police are encouraging owners of Toyota Highlanders and owners of other high-end vehicles including Lexus and Land Rover SUVs and Ford and Dodge trucks to be aware of relay and reprogramming thefts and to consider the below theft prevention information.

How does relay vehicle theft work? 
The suspect will approach a residence and use technology to find a key fob signal from inside the residence. The technology allows the suspects to remain outside the residence to amplify and transfer the key fob signal to unlock, start, and steal the vehicle. 

The theft of the vehicle typically goes undetected until the morning, when the owner discovers the vehicle has been stolen, and they are still in possession of the key fob. 

How does reprogramming vehicle theft work? 
The suspects will approach the vehicle and force entry inside. Once inside the vehicle, an electronic device is used to access the vehicle's diagnostics. The suspects then reprogram a blank key fob so the vehicle can be started. 

How to protect your vehicle from a Relay or Reprogramming Theft? 
Make your vehicle more secure with the following prevention 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, we encourage you to call police immediately. This will assist investigators in tracking patterns of criminal behaviour and potentially identifying suspects. 

A crime in progress can be reported by calling 9-1-1. 

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

Occ: 23-150279 (913)

Media Inquiries:
Waterloo Regional Police Service
Public Information Unit
519-570-9777 (WRPS) ext. 8188

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