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How Stolen Canadian Cars Are Finding Their Way Into the West African Market

It’s a story that often gets told. Someone parks their brand new car at a shopping mall or driveway only to find it missing a few moments later. It might seem like something out of a Hollywood movie until it happens to you. A couple of days ago, CBC News did a dramatic investigative story about how Canadian stolen cars find their way into West Africa.
Canadian Stolen Cars West Africa 8 photos
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Believe it or not, your stolen car could be somewhere in West Africa with a new unsuspecting owner.

According to the IBC (Insurance Bureau of Canada), residents in Ontario alone lose close to $1.6 billion in auto insurance fraud and theft. In the U.S., about 814,400 cars went missing in 2020. 11.8% more from 724,872 in the previous year.

CBC News coordinated with local car dealers in Lagos, Nigeria, and sent a team of undercover researchers who discovered a fleet of cars suspected stolen from driveways and shopping malls in Canada.

According to IBC, the most stolen cars in Canada include the 2017-2019 Honda CR-V, 2017-2019 Lexus RX350/RX450h, Toyota Highlander, and Dodge Ram 1500.

The investigative team found two stolen Honda CR-Vs still holding dealer stickers from Montreal in the west African country. After conducting a simple VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) search, both appeared in the system as “possibly stolen.”

A 2018 Ford F-150 Pickup truck’s details also came back “possibly stolen” from Ontario, as well as a Lexus RX350 that still had its Ontario license plate.

Natalie Cara, a theft victim, shared with CBC News CCTV footage of her 2020 Lexus getting stolen at night. It took the crooks 20 minutes to steal her new car. Another victim lost her brand new Honda CR-V while shopping in a mall.

According to the CBC News team, all it takes is a lock picking device and an essential programming tool that costs less than $1,000 online. Canadian authorities also told the investigative team that car thieves also use a “relay attack.”

The relay attack method uses a device to fool the car into thinking its remote key fob is close, prompting it to unlock and allowing the ignition to go off.

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