When thieves stole a Brampton man’s pickup truck Wednesday morning, one of the first things they allegedly did was rip out a factory-installed GPS tracker.
But Aman Sidhu had an ace up his sleeve: a second tracker the trained mechanic had installed, allowing him to trace the Toyota Tundra to a parking lot in Toronto, where he called the police.
“I installed my own GPS in a hidden location. The thieves never think there is another GPS in the car,” Sidhu told CTV News in an interview.
GPS is one of the deterrents encouraged by the insurance industry to claim down on record-breaking car thefts, where criminals steal vehicles from driveways across the province and take them for resale around the world.
“These incentives are typically targeted to high-risk vehicles. Participation rates have steadily increased among the owners of high-risk vehicles as insurers offer these incentives,” said Brett Weltman of the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Sidhu’s case underscores the complicated problem of trying to mass-produce a theft-deterrent device because smart thieves can find and neutralize them. He said he believes all drivers should get a backup system.
Early Wednesday morning, Sidhu said his first GPS was silent, but his second sent him an alarm that his car was moving.
He followed that second signal from his home to a parking lot near Avenue Road and Highway 401.
A video he provided shows his point of view as he creeps along the parking lot to find the large red pickup among several other vehicles.
“I put my hand on it and it was still hot. I think I got there 10 to 15 minutes after they left,” Sidhu said.
Police say such lots are known as “cooling off locations” – because if there’s interest in tracking the car, pursuers will find it in an unrelated lot instead of the base of their operation.
“It’s a location where they take the cars in between the theft and maybe their ultimate destination,” said Det. Insp Scott Wade of the Ontario Provincial Police.
Wade said officers intercept some vehicles at cooling off locations, and rely on the public to help spot them.
“You know your neighbourhood, you know what fits and what doesn’t fit. And if you see something that looks suspicious, contact police,” he said.
On Wednesday, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Dominic LeBlanc said Ontario would get $121 million to help prevent gun and gang violence in Ontario.