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Own a Toyota or Lexus? Don’t leave your key nearby!

Own a Toyota or Lexus? Don’t leave your key nearby!Ake Ngiamsanguan / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A recent wave of car theft in the Ottawa region has left many Toyota and Lexus owners without a car after thieves exploited a vulnerability in the Japanese auto maker’s keyless entry system.

The string of recent thefts, confined to the Ottawa region for now, has affected owners of Toyota 4Runners, Highlanders and Tacomas as well as Lexus SUVs, CBC reports.

Thieves are thought to be using an amplification device that mimicks the wireless keys’ signal to unlock and drive away with the cars – all without needing a key. The CBC’s report explains that the thieves likely work in teams of two, with one person standing close to the house, where the key is kept, and another standing close to the car. Each person has one of these wireless amplifiers, which cost around $200 each. When the car detects what it thinks is the key’s wireless frequency, it unlocks and thieves are able to start it up.

Police believe the stolen cars are destined for overseas markets, where they are easier to sell or use for parts.

Security experts suggest installing an after-market alarm system, steering wheel lock and/or diagnostic-port lock so that thieves cannot make away with the car after hacking into its computer… Even if they do break in.

Toyota also suggests keeping your car keys in a radio-frequency shielding pouch, known as a “faraday pouch”, to prevent wireless frequencies from escaping when the keys aren’t in use. Of course, this problem could theoretically affect other cars of any brand which also use keyless entry. A faraday pouch can be purchased on Amazon.ca for $15.99 plus tax & shipping.

Of course, the best solution is keeping your car in a garage… But that is not always an option!


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