5 Reasons Toyota 4Runners Are Easy to Steal and How To Fix It!


In 2018, 748,841 vehicles were reported stolen in the United States.  While the top cars on the list can vary slightly by year and location, it is important to know if your vehicle is likely to catch the eye of a car thief.

Are Toyota 4Runners Easy to Steal?

The answer to this question is yes. However, there is a but.  They are easy to steal but are not on the top of a car thief’s radar. In 2015, only 45 4Runners were stolen.

Even though a thief may not currently be longing to separate you form your 4Runner, it is important to learn why they are easy to steal plus what steps you can take to keep your 4Runner from being stolen.

Why are 4Runners easy to steal?

There are a variety of ways for a thief to steal your 4Runner.  Some of the most common ways are listed below.

Signal Relaying

4 Runners, like other newer vehicles, come with keyless entry.  And with keyless entry, the car is designed to respond to the signal from a key fob within a few feet.

Thieves use a device known as an amplifier to help to steal your car.  This $200 device boosts the strength of the radio signal.  This allows the thief to unlock the car and turn off its security system while the key fob is sitting in your home. The thief accomplishes this feat of car theft in four simple steps. 

In the first step, the thief’s transmitter makes contact with the car’s locking system.  In this step, your key is being impersonated.

Next, the locking system responds.  It sends the signal that is meant for your key.

Then, a thief then forwards the transmitter signal to another thief who is near your house.

Finally, the second thief’s transmitter sends the signal to the key fob.  He then sends the correct response from the key fob to the first thief’s transmitter as well as the car’s locking system.  This correct response opens the door and starts the ignition.

Key Programming

Another way thieves can steal your car is a little more old fashioned.  These are the steps taken in this scenario:

First, the thief breaks into the car in a more old school way.  Think using a crowbar, breaking out a window, etc.

The thief then plugs a computer into the car’s diagnostic port. The thief uses the computer to hack the security system to make the car think the key is present.

Signal Jamming

In this technique, the signal the key fob uses to lock the door is jammed. This is done by a device operating on the same radio frequency as the key fob.

When you press the lock on your key fob, the car remains unlocked. And the thief has easy access to your 4Runner.

Close Range Testing

Your key fob may be closer to your 4Runner than you think.  Even when key fobs are safely inside your home, they may still be close enough to be in the range of your 4Runner.  Car thieves will discreetly check the doors of your 4Runner to see if the doors will unlock.

The problem with this method, however, is if the car thief does manage to get inside the vehicle, he will need a secondary method to steal the car. 

Since the key fob must be inside the car to drive away, all this will do is allow him entry into your car.

App Hacking

While this is not currently a widely used method for car theft, it may become so in the future.  Many vehicles have apps that let a person lock or even start their vehicle by use of their phone. 

It would be easy for a sophisticated car thief to hack the system and gain control of your car.

How to Prevent Your 4 Runner from Being Stolen

Deny Thieves Access to Your Key Fob

While nobody would outright hand their key fob over to a criminal, there are ways to keep criminals from accessing the signal from your key fob.

You try simple steps such as wrapping your key fob in tinfoil.  You can also keep it in a metal box.  The metal will disrupt the signal.

Toyota suggests buying a device known as a Faraday pouch. This is a radio frequency shielding device.  It prevents unwanted radio signals, also known as the criminal’s radio signals, from reaching your key fob.

Keep it Locked Up

While a criminal may not have his eyes on your 4Runner, criminals are also opportunistic. So, if you make it easier for them to take your car, they are certainly more likely to.

Make sure you keep your doors locked.  Also, make sure your sunroof is also locked tight.  Keep them locked while driving.

Make sure to roll up your windows while at a stoplight or sitting in traffic.  Also, keep them up when being parked for an extended period.

Put it in the Spotlight

No, I’m not talking about putting your 4Runner in a commercial.  Make sure you park your car in an area that is well lit.  Criminals like to work under the guise of darkness, so they will be less likely to target your car if they will be seen.

If you have a dark driveway, consider installing a streetlamp.  The lamp will add slightly more cost to your electric bill.  But it will deter thieves from stealing your care, which will cost a lot more.

If you are in a public parking lot, park in a well-lit area that is also near a security camera.  The lighting should be enough to ward off the criminal.  But think of the security camera as an extra layer of protection.  No car thief wants their face on television.

Don’t Leave Your Car Unattended While Running

It should really go without saying not to leave your 4Runner running unattended.  But people still do it anyway.  What could possibly happen in a few minutes?

The answer is, a lot could happen.  Like some stealing your vehicle. An unattended running vehicle is like a big neon sign that says, “Please Steal Me.”

Unattended cars that are left running is more likely to happen in colder weather.  For the vehicle not equipped with a remote start, you must walk to your car and turn it on. 

An older model vehicle will require you to leave the keys in the ignition. And if you don’t have a spare set of keys, the car will be unlocked.

Then there’s the, “I’m stopping at the grocery store, pharmacy, restaurant, etc. for only a minute”. 

So instead of parking, turning off your 4Runner, and taking the keys with you, you jump out of your car to grab your quick item. Then someone jumps in your car and drives off. 

That minute it would only take you is all the thief needs to make off with your vehicle.

Install A Tracking Device on Your Car

While this will not prevent a thief from stealing your 4Runner, it will certainly make it a lot easier to figure out where your vehicle is. A quick Google search will result in a multitude of options for car tracking.

If your car is already equipped with GPS, then another tracking device shouldn’t be needed. Police can use the GPS from your car to pinpoint its location.

3 Popular GPS Vehicle Tracking Devices
Best Seller #1Real-Time Tracking
Best Seller #2Portable Unit (good for many purposes)
Best Seller #3Land Air & Sea – GPS, 4G LTE

Stay Away from High Crime Areas

If the crime is higher in a certain area, then it should go without saying there is an increased risk of having your 4Runner stolen.

Do the research and make sure you are familiar with areas that are more prone to car theft.  This should be relatively easy to find out for the city or town you live in.

More research may be required if traveling.  Ask the hotel where you made your reservation what areas to stay away from.  Look at crime statistics online for that area.  Make sure you are not putting yourself at risk.

Hide Your Valuables

If you’ve got some nice items in your 4Runner, you will want to make sure they are out of the sight of potential car thieves.

A thief may only want to break in your car to get your purse, laptop, or other valuable items, but what’s to stop them there?  Maybe instead of just getting the item, they decide to drive off in their new 4Runner.

So, to prevent loss of your valuables-including your car-keep your valuables were hidden.  Something like a blanket works well to sit on top of a larger valuable item.  Place smaller items in the glove box.  If the criminal can’t see it, they won’t try to get it.

Cover Your 4Runner’s VIN Number

What’s easier than stealing a car if you already have a key?  Some criminals use the VIN number from your car to order a new key.  And a criminal with a key to your 4Runner means your 4Runner will be gone.

5 Reasons Toyota 4 Runners Are Easy to Steal and How To Fix It! #TOYOTA #4runner #SUV

So, don’t give the criminal the chance.  Cover up the VIN number.  Something like a piece of cardboard or thick piece of paper should work.  Just make sure the thief won’t be able to see through the covering.

Keep Personal Information at Home

The last thing you want if a car thief is able to get into your 4Runner is to have your personal documents.  This is especially true is these documents pertain to your car.

The biggest document you want to keep out of the hands of thieves is the vehicle’s title.  The title is a good way for the thief to try to prove he is the owner of your vehicle.

Maybe the thief wants to steal your car but is in some way prevented.  If the thief has access to your registration or insurance, then he has your address.  He can use that information later to try to steal your car.

If you own a Toyota 4Runner, you can relax a little.  Car thieves are more likely to target other makes and models than yours.  However, be informed of their various methods for vehicle theft and protect your 4Runner from becoming a potential target.

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

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