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Here's how police in York Region are battling rising vehicle thefts

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Police in York Region launched a multi-faceted campaign called 'Operation Auto Guard' designed to educate vehicle owners and put the brakes on vehicle thefts.

York Regional Police (YRP) reports a 50 per cent spike in vehicle thefts compared to last year, with most thefts happening in the southern part of the region, particularly in Markham, Richmond Hill, and Vaughan.

But, police say the problem is prevalent everywhere far too frequently.

An average of 12 vehicles are reported stolen in York Region every day, with that number on pace to hit a record 4,600 stolen vehicles this year.

"Make no mistake, we are cognizant of the crime that is happening in the north end of the district," said Insp. Ahmad Salhia.

"Organized crime is involved in this 100 per cent. This is being funded and fueled by organized crime," the inspector added.

Oliver Garett lives in Barrie but often works in Newmarket and said he's noticed the growing problem. "I've seen lots of people use wheel locks and rim locks as well to stop it from happening."

As part of Operation Auto Guard, the police service started distributing Faraday bags for owners with keyless fobs. The bags are designed to protect keyless car fobs from hackers intercepting data to steal vehicles.

So far, police have handed out roughly 3,300 Faraday bags, with another 13,000 more arriving soon for distribution.

Those interested in obtaining one can visit one of the police detachments in York Region. However, it's important to note that while these bags provide protection, they are not foolproof.

Vehicle owners are encouraged to place the bag and their keys away from the front door of their home or business.

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