Unlocking Theft: Canada’s Most Stolen Cars Targeted via Diagnostic Ports

Toronto, Ontario — According to insight from Équité Association and Bryan Gast, vice president of investigative services at Honda CR-V, the most commonly stolen vehicles in Canada share one common feature: the inclusion of an onboard diagnostic (OBD) port.

In 2023, Équité Association revealed that the most commonly stolen vehicles in Canada were the following:

  • Honda CR-V (2016 to 2021 model years)
  • Dodge Ram 1500 Series (2022 model year)
  • Ford F150 Series (2015 to 2020 model years)
  • Lexus RX Series (2020 model year)
  • Toyota Highlander (2013-2021 model years)
  • Honda Civic (2019 model year)
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee (2021 model year)
  • Land Rover Range Rover (2020 model year)
  • Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/Sierra 1500 Series (2006 model year)
  • Jeep Wrangler (2021 model year)

Of this list, Gast has noted that the OBD port is the most common way that these vehicles are stolen.

“What it’s intended for,” Gast reported, “is at dealerships, or at a service garage, to be able to plug into [the port] and do a full diagnostic to see what the problem with the car is.”

“Where the criminals are using it,” Gast continued, “they have equipment that can also plug into that OBD port and reprogram a key fob, and now they have the means to start the car up and drive it away, never having the original key fob that the owner would have.”

In terms of how to protect yourself from this kind of theft, the investigative services at Honda CR-V have identified that there is some success to be had in having an OBD port lock.

“They can break into your vehicle, but they can’t plug into the port without wasting a lot of time trying to break that open,” Gast said.

The second most common way criminals are stealing cars is through a relay attack. Here the criminals are intercepting the radio frequency between the key fob and the car.

To help prevent this kind of attack, Gast advised keeping your key away from windows and front entryways.

“If you’re at home, don’t leave your keys or your key fob at the front, or hanging up near the door, protect it in some kind of pouch.

Ultimately, Gast stressed that drivers really need to be aware and to implement a “multilayered approach” to protect against vehicle theft.

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