Thornhill sees rise in car break-ins
Thieves use new technology to decrypt auto security codes
A rising number of car break-ins in Thornhill has culminated in the actual theft of a car, driven off an unsuspecting resident’s driveway.
One morning in September, Lawrence Farbman, a resident in Thornhill Woods, got in his car and was about to head out when he realized something was wrong. His fiancée was inside the house, but her car was nowhere to be seen.
The brand new Toyota Camry that the couple had recently bought was gone. Farbman also noticed his debit cards missing from his wallet that were left in his vehicle overnight, though his own car was otherwise left untouched. A constable from the York Regional Police ( YRP) arrived 30 minutes later.
“She started indicating that thieves are no longer breaking windows or any of that,” said Farbman. “They have app-driven software that burns the smart keys and decrypts the code, and that’s how they gain access.”
Farbman got a hold of footage from a neighbour’s dash cam, and he was stunned at what he saw.
“So these guys came. They were like 20 feet away from both our cars, and we saw them unlock our cars,” he said. “You can see the lights flicker.”
Thefts of this nature require preparation and assessment, with thieves likely scoping out a potential area before deciding which places to hit, according to Jordan Kalpin, an active member with the Preserve Thornhill Woods Association (PTWA).
“We see a lot of break-ins into vehicles, but a lot less actual vehicles stolen from people’s driveways,” said Kalpin.
With the help of the local councillor Sandra Yeung Racco, officers with the YRP were brought in for a community safety meeting during a serious spate of break-ins last November.
“It’s organized gangs and organized criminals who happen to be in a neighbourhood at a given time of the week,” said Kalpin.
Arrests for thefts stemming from organized criminal activity are not often made.
“If someone broke into your car and the police arrest the person, they will get a minimal conviction,” said Yeung Racco. “So we really need to break the thick ring around the vehicle theft incidents. That’s what we have to deal with.”
Farbman’s fiancée’s car was found in Toronto less than two weeks after it was stolen. But this experience has left the couple shaken.
“My little one has had problems sleeping over the last week or so,” said Farbman. “My pregnant fiancée is also waking up at 3 a.m. in the morning to make sure her car is still there.” –– George Redak
Thornhill Woods has been the target of car thieves