No keys are needed.
An organized and professional gang of car thieves is currently targeting the Toyota 4Runner, Highlander, and Tacoma pickup trucks as well as some Lexus SUVs, such as the GX, in the Canadian province of Ontario. According to the CBC, the vehicles' anti-theft system has been useless.
Since last April, these criminals have made off with over 100 vehicles. Instead of selling them locally or elsewhere in Canada for parts or as whole vehicles, many are being sent overseas to Africa and the Middle East for resale. A local Facebook group has even been started by Toyota owners in the hope of warning others about what could happen. Troublingly, these thieves do not need the owners' key fobs for the robbery.
That's because these Toyota vehicles were designed to respond to the radio signal from the key fob within a range of a couple of yards. An Ottawa-area vehicle security expert says the thieves are using a $200 device that boosts the strength of that signal, thus enabling them to unlock the vehicle and quickly disarm its security system. All the while, the key fob remains inside the owner's home. Basically, stealing these Toyota vehicles is as simple as pushing a button and driving off. There's actually a term for this: relay attacks. It is possible to improve the vehicle's stock security system via aftermarket accessories, but should this really be up to the owner when the vehicle in question is still new?
The thieves are also using more old-fashioned methods. They break into the vehicle and then plug a computer into the car's diagnostic port and hack the security system, leading it to believe there's a key present.
It's also not just private owners being targeted. A few weeks ago, police recovered seven new trucks and SUVs stolen from a Toyota dealership lot from shipping containers bound for overseas. For now, Toyota is telling owners to take extra precautions, such as installing an aftermarket alarm system, steering wheel lock, and diagnostic-port lock. If possible, owners should simply avoid parking their vehicles on their driveways at night and lock them inside their garage.
Some theft victims, however, have declared they're done with Toyota. They'll shop elsewhere for their replacement vehicle following the insurance payout.