Car thieves have a new way to track your car and steal it from your driveway

A simple high-tech method to steal high-end vehicles

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In a well-heeled town north of Toronto, area police have uncovered a new trend in the way carjackers are able to steal luxury cars.

Investigators at the York Regional Police Auto/Cargo Theft Unit say thieves are placing Apple AirTag devices, intended to help users find their laptops or other belongings, onto a hidden spot on a car that is parked at a public place such as a shopping mall. They then track that car to its owner’s home at night, and, use tools like screwdrivers or Slim Jims to get into the vehicles through one of the front doors, while making sure they don’t set off the car alarm.

Using a mechanic’s tool for reprogramming factory settings via the onboard diagnostics port, they instruct the vehicle to program a key they’ve brought with them. And then they drive away with their chosen vehicle.

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AirTags use nearby Apple devices as crowdsourced beacons to ping their location, reports, which explains how they can work even long after the thief has deposited it on a car. It’s anonymous and encrypted, so only its owner can track a particular AirTag.

Just since September, YRP officers have investigated five such incidents in which the $39 devices are placed in out-of-sight areas of the target vehicles when they are in parking lots. The carjackers have partly homed in on Aurora, possibly because the town of about 62,000 reports an average household income of $150,000 — almost triple the national average — making it more likely they own a high-end vehicle.

The York Regional Police service has these tips to prevent such theft:

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