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Toronto Police Backpedal After Encouraging Residents To Leave Their Car Keys By Their Door To Assist Thieves During A Robbery

Natasha Biase

Police in Toronto, Canada have backpedaled after issuing puzzling advice on preventing home and auto theft last month. At a town hall in Etobicoke, the Toronto Police Service offered tips to make it easier for thieves to access car keys and fobs by leaving them near the front door.

Because auto thefts have spiked 40% from 2022 to 2023, concerned residents gathered at the Toco Civic Centre in Etobicoke to express concerns about rising crime in the area and seek guidance from police and city councilors on crime prevention tactics. 

In addition to advising residents to change their behavior by altering certain habits when they go to and from their homes, Constable Marco Riccardi also instructed them to leave their car fobs at the front door to avoid being attacked.

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

Continuing, Riccardi stresses that many thieves have guns, and it’s best to avoid any encounters with them: “A lot of them that they’re arresting have guns on them, and they’re not toy guns, they’re real guns, they’re loaded.”

Police have been going door-to-door handing out door stops and pamphlets on auto-theft prevention to people living in the York Region after over 4,200 vehicles were stolen in the area last year.

Taking their advice to heart, one Toronto resident even put a handwritten note on the window of her car, instructing thieves on how to access her vehicle after being broken into three times already.

“Dear Mr. Robber, please do not break my car window. The door is open. Have a great day,” read the note, which was called “creative and wholesome” by local press.

But the Toronto Police Service’s advice confused many on social media who mocked the city’s relaxed approach to vehicle theft. Others were concerned that law enforcement would issue advice that empowered thieves to commit crimes against innocent Canadians.

Others, like political commentator Viva Frei, blamed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the dystopian state of the country:

“Welcome to @JustinTrudeau’s Canada. Where guns are illegal. Except criminals have them, and you don’t,” he wrote, adding: “And the police are imploring you to leave your keys at the front door so armed criminals can steal your cars, and hopefully spare your life. It’s been a while since I’ve said it, but F*CK YOU Justin Trudeau!”

News of the widespread outrage online prompted the police to backtrack on their crime prevention tactics.

Linking to the Toronto Police Service (TPS) website with updated advice on X, the police explained that Officer Riccardi’s advice was well-meaning, but there are “better ways to prevent auto theft motivated home invasions.”

According to the TPS website, “home invasions and auto theft occurrences rose 400% in 2023,” prompting concern among the force about a potential “escalation in violence” when the burglars are armed.

As a result, law enforcement suggests parking vehicles in a car garage, keeping the exterior of your home well-lit, installing security cameras and an alarm system, putting security film on glass windows and doors, having multiple locks on doors, keeping gates locked, avoid posting on social media when you’ll be away from you home, and report suspicious activity in your neighborhood to police.

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Natasha Biase

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