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Thieves use key hack to steal three Lexuses from same family

by Justin King

The Ottawa couple unsuccessfully tried \'fob guards\' to foil the thieves after their first Lexus was stolen.

An Ottawa couple has reportedly lost three Lexus vehicles in just a few months as thieves apparently expand the use of 'relay' hacks to gain access to locked vehicles.

Criminals allegedly stole the family's 2017-model-year Lexus over Father's Day weekend, then returned recently to simultaneously steal a 2016 and 2018 model sitting in the driveway, according to CTV News.

In each case, the vehicles were locked and the keys were inside the home. The report speculates the family fell victim to a relay box, which essentially amplifies the signal from the key in the house to trick the keyless entry system and allow the car to be unlocked and started without the fob actually present near the vehicle.

"According to police, it's a ring of thieves, international thieves ... and they take them over to Montreal and then ship them over to Africa and the Middle East," said a neighbor, Marnie Bennett, who also had a Lexus stolen the same weekend.

After the first loss, the residents employed a fob 'guard' which ostensibly blocks the signal from the key fob to protect against relay box attacks. The product allegedly failed to prevent thieves from lifting the pair of vehicles months later.

Ottawa police have confirmed a jump in the number of stolen luxury vehicles, climbing from just 12 incidents in all of 2017 to 34 so far this year. The Insurance Bureau of Canada says the most stolen vehicle in the country last year was the Lexus GX 460. Police have also said the Lexus RX and Toyota 4Runner and Highlander are also proving popular targets.

"We continue to develop technology that strengthens the integrity and security of our vehicles," Lexus Canada said in a statement.