Simple Solution to Stall Thieves

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 8 a.m. October 4, 2021
Updated: 10:20 a.m. October 4, 2021

With almost 200 vehicles thefts in 31 Division over the summer, mostly among vehicles with keyless ignition systems, police and Toronto Crime Stoppers have teamed up to encourage drivers to use key fob signal blockers.

A black pouch
The Project Lockdown signal-blocking pouch being sold through Toronto Crime Stoppers

Project Lockdown is intended to create community awareness of an effective solution to protect and block the signal between their key fob and vehicle.

“This is something that’s simple, but truly innovative,” said Chief James Ramer, of the education initiative. “It is demonstrating how we are using technology to prevent crime and keep our communities safe.”

Keyless ignition systems come with a fob that transmits a unique low-frequency signal to the car's computer system, which then validates that the correct signal has been sent and allows someone to push a button on the dashboard or console to unlock the doors and start the engine.

Thieves exploit this technology by using repeaters at their front door to extract that signal to steal vehicles without ever entering someone’s home.

Placing key fobs in signal blocking or Faraday pouches and boxes is a good habit to get motorists used to, rather than hanging them by a front door.

A demonstration of how a person accesses a key fob signal by standing outside a home with a signal repeater
Vehicles are being stolen by accessing signals from key fobs

Constable Lauren Vanspall, of 31 Division, examined the car theft problem from a crime prevention perspective and reached out to Toronto Crime Stoppers who had been promoting the use of signal blockers.

“This is a true example of partnership and it’s addressing a problem that’s of great importance to the community and will really contribute to helping people feel safer,” Chief Ramer said.

Inspector Keith Smith, of 31 Division, said his officers have been proactive in taking steps to address the problem.

“Our Neighbourhood Community Officers are out in the community talking to people and making them aware of the issue and there are patrols in neighbourhoods we have identified through intelligence where autos are being stolen,” he said. “We are doing our best to address the problem and this initiative will definitely help. It’s another tool that citizens can use to prevent their vehicles from being stolen.”

The Toronto Police Service and Toronto Crime Stoppers are asking vehicle owners to find a signal-blocking solution that meets their needs, as there are a variety of options on the market.

KYCS (Keep Your Community Safe) Global has partnered with Toronto Crime Stoppers to offer a  $20 signal-blocking pouch.

“Most people go home and put their keys beside their door or on the counter by the door,” said Jason Lyall, the Vice-President of KYCS. “Thieves use key fob repeaters to extract that signal and then use a separate agnostic fob to get into your vehicle. You can simply drop your keys in this pouch every night and block the signal from escaping. We really hope we can combat vehicle theft through the RFID repeater technology.”

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