'There are better ways:' Police issue statement after officer tells residents to leave car keys near front door amid home invasions

‘There are better ways:’ Police issue statement after officer tells residents to leave car keys near front door amid home invasions

A bit of unconventional advice given to residents by an officer at an Etobicoke town hall last month has prompted the Toronto Police Service to clarify its position on theft prevention.

At the community meeting, held on Feb. 27 at Etobicoke Civic Centre, Const. Marco Ricciardi advised attendees to leave the keys to their vehicles near their front doors in Faraday pouches as a way to deter break-ins motivated by car theft.

“To prevent the possibility of being attacked in your home, leave your fobs at your front door,” Const. Marco Ricciardi said at the meeting. “ Because they’re breaking into your home to steal your car. They don’t want anything else.”

While the advice is in line with recent initiatives rolled out in the Toronto area such as York Region’s ‘Operation Auto Guard,’ which saw police hand out thousands of Faraday pouches to residents, some felt it would make stealing vehicles an easier task for thieves.

More than two weeks later, the service took to social media to address the officer’s comments. 

“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 statement read. “While well-meaning, there are better ways to prevent auto theft-motivated home invasions.”

When reached for further comment, spokesperson Stephanie Sayer said the remarks were made in response to the increasing number of violent home invasions related to vehicle thefts in the area.

“Police are concerned about the escalation in violence, whether it be home invasions or carjackings, and have always advised the public to prioritize their safety over their vehicle,” she said.

The number of vehicle thefts in Toronto has more than doubled in the last five years, according to city data.

In 2023, over 12,000 vehicles were stolen in the city, more than 33 a day. In 2019, 5,197 thefts were reported.

car theft statistics toronto

The rising trend led to the creation of the ‘Provincial Carjacking Joint Task Force’ in October 2023.

The force, a collaboration between police services from across the GTA the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), has led to some sizable busts – one of the most recent being York Region’s Project Mamba, which recovered 52 stolen vehicles worth over $3 million. The taskforce arrested almost 100 people and laid over 550 charges.

To protect against car thefts at the residential level, Toronto police advise keeping your vehicle in a well-lit area – and in a garage, if possible – and never hiding spare keys inside. 

With files from CTV News Toronto’s Jon Woodward.