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Five vehicles stolen overnight in south end as thieves clone key fobs

'When I saw a bare driveway where my vehicle should have been, I was a little surprised to say the least. I guess the feeling of being violated came later,' says victim

Barrie police are warning luxury vehicle owners that locking it up may not be the only way to keep your ride safe from theft.

Five vehicles were stolen from their south-end driveways overnight in the Ardagh Road and Mapleton Avenue areas after thieves stole the RF signal from the fob and overrode the vehicle’s computer, allowing them to simply drive away.

Barrie police communications co-ordinator Peter Leon told BarrieToday they started receiving calls around 5 a.m., Monday, as people started heading out the door.

“We often say lock it or lose it, but in these cases that wasn’t enough. People woke up to see their vehicles gone because the thieves were able to use a device that reads the fob that is inside your house,” said Leon. “From there, they’re in the vehicle and gone.”

Leon said most people leave their fob by the door, which is in reach of the electronic reading device. Thieves get close enough to your house, download the information they need to open and start your car, and are gone.

“The bad news is these are typically luxury vehicles that are highly sought after overseas,” said Leon. “Most times, they are sold for much more than the owner paid for them, put on to containers in Quebec or Vancouver and gone.”

The five vehicles stolen overnight were two Lexuses and three Toyota Highlanders.

Rob Hilton, who was one of the people victimized by last night's thefts, told BarrieToday he was shocked when he went to his driveway this morning.

“When I saw a bare driveway where my vehicle should have been, I was a little surprised to say the least. I guess the feeling of being violated came later,” said Hilton. 

While the thought of having to pay a deductible and head out vehicle shopping during the pandemic is not ideal, Hilton said he isn’t too stressed about it.

“This is what insurance is for. My first thought was maybe it was a kid joyriding and they could have killed someone. If being shipped overseas is what happened, no one was killed, everyone is fine. That's what matters.”

The affected streets were Marta Crescent, Eaglestone Lane, Stoneybrook Crescent, McKenzie Crescent, and Gore Drive. 

A Faraday pouch is lined with metal and used for anti-hacking purposes, but Leon says that may not be enough protection and advises taking extra precaution.

“I would honestly suggest the Faraday pouch and placing the key away from the door, maybe in a drawer further into the house,” he said. “Another option if available is if you can’t park in the garage, park another vehicle behind the one of great concern. Everything you can do should be done.”