Defend Yourself from Auto Theft

Defend Yourself from Auto Theft


On average, a vehicle is stolen every 5 minutes in Canada. An experienced car thief can steal a car in less than 3 minutes. Car thefts cost Canadians billions of dollars every year. Vehicle theft is a high-profile crime that levies both a financial and social inconvenience.

Vehicle theft is not limited to large urban Canadian centers—Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal.  It happens across this country, albeit the greatest incidence is in the GTA, followed a close second by Montreal.  It is a daily event that is now starting to cost consumers directly through their insurance premiums.  Unfortunately, it is not a societal scourge that will be coming an end anytime soon.  This is a multi-layered, multi-jurisdictional problem.  At the end of the day, it is too easy to steal a car, and the gaps in the system—lack of law enforcement officers, lack of legislative/judicial authority to punish thieves—just make it so.

Vehicle theft can be targeted, or it can be a crime of opportunity.  Target theft focuses on vehicles that are, by virtue of their design, easy to steal, and are in demand.  Crime of opportunity occurs when a vehicle is left running on a driveway, left unlocked or parked in a dimly light area.  While targeted theft can be crimes of opportunity that is because vehicle owners have allowed it to happen.  Vehicles that are target for theft are either chopped for parts, exported, whole or in part, to foreign countries where they can be sold easy and for high prices or they can be re-VIN’ed and resold in Canada or the United States.  Re-Vinning is possible given the existing gaps in inter-provincial vehicle registration.  Less than 50% of the cars that are target thefts are ever recovered.  Vehicles stolen as crimes of opportunity about half are chopped, resold or re-VIN’ed and about 50% are recovered.  That’s because these vehicles were chosen to a joy-ride or transportation as a means to commit another crime.

The common theme in all of it is that certainly makes and models of cars are easy to steal, and owners allow them to be stolen. So, while we can’t change how the vehicle is constructed and/or how it can be redesigned to mitigate theft, working with what we have we can take proactive steps to prevent or at least lessens the likelihood of our vehicle being stolen.  If we don’t, you will, if you have not already, you will experience the repercussions on your car insurance premium.

Currently, we are experiencing a considerable uptick in the role Canadian insurance companies are taking in the battle against vehicle theft.  They have identified the most sought after, commonly stolen vehicles.  They are working with consumers to install a tracking system in their cars through incentives.  Where drivers choose not to install tracking systems in the high theft makes and models insurers are surcharging up to $500 and/or increasing deductibles to reflect the certain exposure.  Remember, vehicle theft is not isolated to urban centers.  Currently, the most frequently stolen vehicles are: 

  • Lexus RX Series
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Honda CRV
  • Ford F150
  • Dodge Ram 1500 Series
  • Acura RDX
  • Chevy Silverado
  • GMC Sierra
  • Land Rover - Range Rover
  • Kia

That is not to suggest other makes and models are by any stretch of the imagination immune.

TIPS to mitigate vehicle theft

  • Never leave your car running and unattended
  • Never leave your keys in the car or ignition, even if inside a locked garage. 
  • Never leave anything of value (including loose change) inside the car and visible to passersby.  If you must leave something of value in the car place it in the trunk.  
  • Always roll up your windows and lock the car even if it is in front of your home or parked in a locked garage.
  • Have your home garage wired to your house alarm (many garages are not) so unexpected entry is detected.
  • If you have security camera include them on all entrance doors to your garage.
  • Always park in high-traffic well light areas.  (This is beneficial to your personal safety not just your car)
  • Be aware of the anti-theft deterrent systems installed by your vehicles manufacturer and where possible enhance those either at the manufacturer level or with after market products.  i.e. Steering wheel locks or fuel cut-off switches.
  • If your car is equipped with a manufacturer’s tracking system, ensure it is activated at all times. If not, install a tracking system.  TAG is the generally recommended tracker.
  • Have your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) etched into the vehicle somewhere other than just the manufacturer installed plate.  This could be in the glass windows, inside the trunk or engine compartment, somewhere discrete.  Don’t share the location with anyone.
  • If you live in an area known for high incidents of auto theft install an audible alarm system with window decals to indicate such an alarm is present.
  • When using a valet service provide the service with only the ignition key and ensure your glove box is locked.
  • Keep a copy of your license plate and VIN with your driver’s license.  If the car is stolen police will need this information.
  • When your car is not in use keep all key fobs in a RFID signal-blocking container to avoid detection and duplication of fob codes.
  • Use locking systems for diagnostic ports and steering wheels to prevent thieves from reprogramming your key fob.
  • Install steering wheel/brake pedal locks; brake and/or wheel locks.

There is much work to be done to stem the tide of vehicle theft in Canada.  While steps you take may not heavy impact the statistics it will at least help to prevent you being a statistic.  For more information on how to protect yourself from vehicle theft our brokerage welcomes your call.