Leave car keys ‘at front door’ to avoid violent confrontations with car thieves: Toronto Police

Toronto Police are facing backlash after telling vehicle owners who have their key fobs in a faraday pouch to leave them near their door. Why police say the move will prevent contact with car thieves.

Toronto Police are being heavily criticized online for what many consider a shoulder-shrugging approach to the rash of car thefts that continue to plague the Greater Toronto Area.

At an Etobicoke safety meeting last month, Cst. Marco Ricciardi advised residents to leave their key fobs in a faraday pouch in a convenient place for thieves as a way to lessen the risk of violent confrontations.

“To prevent the possibility of being attacked in your home, leave your fobs at the front door because they are breaking into your home to steal your car; they don’t want anything else.

“A lot of them that they’re arresting have guns on them and they are not toy guns,” he ominously added. “They are real guns. They’re loaded.”

That advice sparked an angry reaction on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“This is bizarre,” wrote one X user. “Toronto Police advising the public to leave your fobs near the door. They suggest this because invaders are primarily entering homes to steal your cars. Why not hang your keys outside the door? Or better yet, just leave them in the car.”

“This is failed state-level insanity,” another added. “Hey guys do you mind making it easier for people to steal your cars so that they won’t break into your house instead? Thanks.”

Toronto Police were trending on X on Thursday, with thousands of tweets on the topic, most of them expressing anger.

Statistics show car thefts in the GTA spiked by nearly 25 per cent in 2023 over the previous year.

Even more distressing, Toronto Police say home invasions and break-and-enters for auto theft rose 400 per cent in 2023.

In a release Wednesday, Toronto Police offered more advice to worried citizens.

“An officer at a recent community meeting suggested that people leave the keys to their vehicle in a faraday bag by the front door,” the release states.

“While well meaning, there are also other ways to prevent auto theft motivated home invasions … Police are concerned about an escalation in violence, where all sorts of weapons and firearms are being used to steal vehicles, and that includes during home invasions.”

Toronto Police suggest the following:

  • Park vehicles in garage, if possible
  • Ensure your driveway is well lit and keep exterior lights on all night
  • Security cameras are an asset
  • If possible, install a home security system – activate alarm on STAY when home and AWAY when out
  • Consider having a motion detection alarm connected to your cell phone
  • Put security film on glass windows and doors
  • Have multipoint door locks on your doors
  • Keep backyard gates locked and ground windows secured
  • Do not post on social media when you will be away on holiday
  • Report suspicious vehicles/persons in the neighbourhood to police

York Regional Police have gone as far as handing out door stops to some residents in high-risk areas to prevent front doors from being kicked in by key-seeking crooks.

CityNews spoke to one Unionville woman who says her family received one of the devices (pictured below).

“So it’s gotten to the point where they are just handing these things out to residents, that to me shows that it’s very high risk,” said Ally Galinski.

Galinski said police also delivered a pamphlet with tips to prevent vehicle thefts, including investing in alarm systems, security cameras, and motion sensor lights and avoiding posting vacation plans on social media.

While she said she appreciates the advice, she’s hoping police can take a more proactive approach to the issue.

“I’m glad they are taking initiative … but in terms of what I’d like to see done at least in a high-risk area, maybe more patrols?”

Peel Regional Police provided an update on X on Thursday, outlining their efforts to combat the growing problem and providing advice to citizens.

Unlike Toronto Police, Peel police advise keeping fobs “away from doorways and entrances.”

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