As the city of Ottawa continues to see an increase in auto thefts, experts at the Canadian Automobile Association say the key fob to your vehicle can be an easy way for a thief to gain access and drive it away.

The Ottawa Police Service tells CTV News Ottawa that 493 vehicles have been reported stolen so far this year. There were 1,069 vehicle thefts in 2021 and 811 in 2000, according to the Ottawa Police Service crime statistics. 

The Honda CRV has been the most popular target for thieves in Ottawa this year, with 149 vehicles stolen, followed by Lexus/Toyota and Jeep Cherokee/Dodge Durango vehicles.

Julie Beun with the local CAA says some simple steps can be taken to protect your vehicle.

"It is really important you make sure to protect your key fob, even if it’s in your house, make sure you put it in a RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) wallet or get a metal box, even a cookie tin would be more than enough to protect you from those hacks." Beun said. “If you have one, put your car into a garage, that is your number one option. If you can’t put it behind a gate invest in a steering wheel lock. It’s really about slowing down the process because if they have to take extra time to get into your car to start it and steal it, then it’s not going to happen.”

The top vehicles stolen in Ottawa in 2022, according to Ottawa Police:

  • Honda CRVs – 149
  • Lexus / Toyota - 145
  • Jeep Cherokee / Dodge Durango -  137
  • Ford pickup / Lincoln - 44
  • Acura RDX - 18

Ottawa police say the following tips can help protect your vehicle from thieves:

  • Park inside a garage if available (No vehicle has been stolen from inside a garage in Ottawa) 
  • Block your vehicle in tightly against a second less sought after vehicle
  • Use a steering wheel lock (i.e. "Club") to deter thieves (keep in mind they can cut the steering wheel to remove it)
  • Install an Engine Control Module (ECM) port lock
  • Install an after-market vehicle immobilizer and alarm
  • Install after-market tracking devices or "GPS" – many of these have the ability to "fence in your car" notifying the owner’s smart phone if the vehicle leaves the established perimeter
  • Install motion detection lights and exterior surveillance cameras at home – these can act as a deterrent
  • Keep in mind that thieves have returned to steal the replacement vehicle when a vehicle had been stolen, so remain vigilant

Police say neighbourhood watch is still the best defense, so please report any suspicious activity immediately to 613-236-1222.