Car Break-Ins: High Tech or Low?

Some Hastings Sunrise neighbors have been waking up to find their cars have been broken into without any clear sign of how the thief gained entry. There is no evidence that locks have been forced, no broken glass or alarms ringing, just glove compartment contents strewn around the vehicle and the odd missing item.


The most obvious explanation — that the owners forgot to lock their doors — seems unlikely when multiple vehicles in the same block experience the same type of crime on the same night.



So how are these criminals gaining entry? Numerous reports out of the U.S. suggest thieves may be using a device that transmits back the signal used in your fob so they can gain illegal entry without triggering an alarm. The New York Times reported on several such systems in 2015.



Constable Romi Mattu of the Vancouver Police Department feels it is likely something far more low-tech in Vancouver. “Jimmies” are simple devices that have been used by towing companies for years to gain access to cars that need to be cleared from roadways. They may well be the tool of choice for local thieves.



No matter how the break-in happens, Cst. Mattu suggests that prevention techniques are the same:

  • Remove all items, even low value ones, from your car.
  • Take everything out of your glove compartment and leave it open when you lock your car at night so thieves know there is nothing in there.
  • Keep a copy of your insurance papers behind your sun visor so they are not visible in the glove compartment.
  • Park in well-lit areas where lots of neighbours have good sight lines on your car.
  • Remove garage door openers from your vehicle so thieves cannot access your garage.
  • Use a steering wheel lock.


She advises against leaving vehicle doors unlocked in an attempt to avoid damage. Criminals could hide inside the car while committing other crimes or create hazards such as leaving used needles behind.


Reporting any incidents is also key: law enforcement can only dedicate resources to crime trends they are made aware of.


Report by calling 604-717-3321 or online at Don’t forget to also notify your local community policing centre.


Removing temptation is the easiest and lowest cost solution to this type of crime. A neighborhood where there is no gain in breaking into cars is one much less attractive to thieves.


■ Loretta Revoczi

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