Gail Downey thought her mind was playing tricks on her when she looked out the window of her Ottawa home on Monday and saw an empty driveway.
“I asked my husband to look and he said both the cars are missing,” she told CTV Ottawa.
One of their missing high-end cars—a 2016 Lexus and a brand new 2018 Lexus—was a replacement for another Lexus that was stolen from their driveway in mid-June.
In each case, the cars were locked, and the wireless fobs that could be used to open them were tucked securely away in protectors inside their home.
Marnie Bennett, a neighbour who also had her Lexus stolen, told CTV Ottawa that police suspect a ring of international thieves that steals the cars and then ships them elsewhere around the world is responsible for the recent wave of thefts.
The thieves appear to be using a device called a “relay box,” that searches for, finds and then relays a signal from a wireless key fob inside the victim’s home. The signal is then transmitted to a second device held near the car, tricking the car into thinking that the fob is present. It unlocks, and the thieves are able to start the car and drive off with it.
The whole process can take less than one minute to carry out.
While Ottawa police did not respond to a request for comment from CTV Ottawa, Lexus said that auto theft of this kind are a problem across the car industry.
“We continue to develop tech that strengthens the integrity and security of our vehicles,” Lexus said in a statement to CTV Ottawa.
In the meantime, Downey says she is inclined to rely on more outdated technology.
“I know those old-fashioned clubs…I’m probably going to get one,” she said.
With a report from CTV Ottawa
Video from the West Midlands Police showing a relay car theft in Solihull, England: