Electric vehicles (EVs) are not stolen as often as gas-powered cars for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s “all about supply and demand,” according to Bryan Gast, vice-president of investigative services at Équité Association. While any push-to-start vehicle, including EVs, can be stolen, thieves have a shopping list of cars that are in high demand overseas. In West Africa, for example, there isn’t a high demand for EVs due to a lack of infrastructure for charging them. Instead, gas-powered SUVs and pickup trucks are the targets of theft.
Furthermore, the lower supply of electric vehicles compared to gas cars also contributes to their lower theft rate. As of 2021, there were only about 152,685 registered battery-electric cars in Canada, which accounts for about 0.6% of the country’s more than 24 million registered passenger vehicles. This lower supply makes it less attractive for thieves to target EVs.
In 2022, car thefts have seen a significant increase in Canada due to global shortages of new and used cars. According to Gast, car thefts have increased by 50% in Quebec, over 48% in Ontario, more than 34% in the Atlantic provinces, and over 18% in Alberta. Organized crime has entered the car theft industry, with vehicles being stolen for export to West Africa, other regions of Africa, and the Middle East.
Thieves have adapted to the technology used in newer cars with push-button starts. They can use a laptop to program a blank fob to start a car via the onboard diagnostic port. Another method is a wireless relay attack, where thieves can scan the signal from a keyless fob to create a cloned fob that allows them to open and start the car. To prevent these methods, car owners can consider installing a port lock and keeping their keyless fobs in a Faraday box or bag to block signals.
In response to the increasing car thefts, Gast calls for updates to Canada’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations to make all vehicles more difficult to steal. He emphasizes that technology advancements have made thefts quicker and more brazen, and there is a need to catch up with improving vehicle security.
– Bryan Gast, Équité Association
– Statistics Canada
– Canadian Finance and Leasing Association
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