As a wave of car thefts sweeps over Ontario, one Toronto driver stands out as an exception.
Surveillance video shows thieves have tried to steal this driver’s 2018 Grand Cherokee at least nine times in the last six months, but spun their wheels each time.
And in one incident, special security measures the driver installed delayed the thieves until the police could arrive. An officer took one of them down after a chase through a North York street.
“I wouldn’t say it’s unstealable, but it’s pretty close,” said the driver in an interview. “I’m confident it’s not going to get stolen.”
CTV News Toronto isn’t identifying the driver, because he doesn’t want the people targeting his truck to target him further.
Police across southern Ontario are warning of a rash of thefts involving certain brands, usually through copying the signal that the car’s key fob emits, or convincing a car that a dummy fob owned by thieves is actually the driver’s own fob.
Statistics show how powerful those techniques are: there are 54 vehicles stolen in Toronto and Peel Region each day in 2023 — a figure up by roughly 45 per cent from a year ago.
Stories of car owners defeating thieves are much rarer. The driver wishes they were more common, and is urging drivers to accept that the default security systems in these cars are simply obsolete.
“Anything you do is better than nothing. If you don’t do anything, you’re going to be the next victim,” the driver said.
On the outside, the driver uses wheel locks and a steering wheel club. There are several systems on the inside that he didn’t want to advertise.
The net effect is that it slows the thieves down to the point that one of them gets bored and sits on his stairs to wait for his partner, who appears frustrated that his usual tricks aren’t working.
Another system silently notifies the driver that something’s amiss, and in one case, he called the police, whose video shows the suspects roll up and start to give chase. One of the two thieves was arrested that night and faces charges.
“That was a pretty exciting moment,” he said.
Mechanic Ron Yossef of Toronto’s Car Systems International says he sees plenty of customers who have had their cars go missing, usually in the middle of the night.
“Some customers already had their car stolen, and this is their second vehicle. For some customers, it’s even a third vehicle,” he said.
Yossef offers something called the IGLA, which is a small device that can turn a car’s steering wheel buttons into a kind of computer keyboard where someone has to enter a password to turn the car on. It can also immobilize the car after it’s been started remotely.
“It’s very unique. It’s invisible, and the unit is very small, and it cannot be cloned or copied or bypassed,” Yossef told CTV News Toronto.
The cost can vary, depending on the type of vehicle and the complexity of the system, but it starts at about $900, he said.