Thieves target high-end SUVs in Ottawa's west end
2 vehicles vanish from family's McKellar Park driveway in 1 week
An Ottawa family that had two pricey SUVs stolen from their driveway in one week wants police to take a tougher approach to vehicle thefts.
On Tuesday, June 5, Sarah Grand's white 2017 Lexus RX-350 disappeared from its spot in front of her McKellar Park home. Precisely one week later, her husband's black 2017 Toyota 4Runner vanished.
"It hasn't been a great week," Grand sighed.
"It gives you a real sense of insecurity. It's just disheartening and you feel violated."
On the same day Grand's vehicle disappeared, thieves made off with another high-end Lexus SUV from Meeka Proudfoot's driveway just a few blocks away.
In all the cases, the vehicles were locked.
"My heart sank. I feel violated. They were on my property and my babies were asleep," Proudfoot said.
"At the end of the day it's just a car and everyone is safe and that's what counts, but it's still icky."
Neither Grand nor Proudfoot heard their vehicle's alarm go off, and no broken glass indicated thieves forced their way into the SUVs, both of which have keyless entry and ignition.
Victims want more police presence
Both women are calling on police to do more to stop such thefts.
"At the very least they need to come out and speak to the residents and see if anyone has seen anything suspicious," Grand said.
"I'd like to see more patrol cars in the area especially in the evening."
Two police officers came to Proudfoot's home after she reported the theft.
"I was surprised how nonchalant the police were about it, saying, 'Oh yeah, it's gone.' So if it's happening like this maybe more should be done, maybe we need a higher presence of police," she said.
Proudfoot said police told her the theft appeared to be a case of "very sophisticated hacking" and that her car had likely been driven to Montreal and onto an overseas container ship before she even woke up.
Police told her, where possible, high-end vehicles should be parked in a garage.
But Proudfoot said her SUV was too large to fit into her garage.
Sarah Grand, who has a two-car garage, was told the same thing by police.
"I hate that that's my only option that I have to put my car in the garage to feel safe," she said.
'It's scary to think someone is watching us'
Grand believes the theft of her vehicles wasn't random.
Her husband had a previous Toyota 4Runner stolen last August from their driveway.
Several weeks ago while sitting in her car in the driveway, she noticed a man driving slowly down her street and it appeared he was filming homes with his cell phone.
"It's scary, it's scary to think someone is watching us and noticing our patterns as a family," Grand said.
"I definitely will be more vigilant and we're getting security cameras installed because I need to be able to sleep at night," Proudfoot said.
Ottawa police said the sergeant in charge of organized auto theft was unavailable for an interview and could not comment on an ongoing investigation.
Police said in an email vehicle owners should park safely in their driveways and "block them with a secondary vehicle — when possible."
Last December Ottawa police charged three men, including one from Ottawa, with 141 offences involving the theft of 18 Toyota and Lexus Sport Utility Vehicles with a total value of $745,000.
Police said many of those vehicles were recovered.
No one from Toyota Canada was available for an interview but the company provided an email statement.
"When it comes to theft, certain vehicles are in higher demand than others. Toyota and Lexus are committed to helping address the security challenges that are facing the entire auto industry. We continue to develop technology that strengthens the integrity and security of our vehicles."