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12 Tips to Prevent Vehicle Theft

March 29, 2011

Every year, approximately 125,000 vehicles are stolen in Canada.   This theft costs insurers nearly $500,000 dollars annually, a cost of roughly $35 for every auto insurance premium in Canada. These vehicles are often used in other crimes, dismantled for parts, or shipped overseas to be resold.  It’s always good to start thinking anti-theft right at the vehicle purchase by finding out what models are more susceptible to thefts. Theft deterrents not only help to protect your car, they can also help earn you lower auto insurance premiums.   Here are some steps that you can take to protect your car from theft:

1.       Never leave your car running if it’s unattended.

It’s often tempting, especially during the cold, Canadian winters to leave the car running while you dash into a store or to start the car and leave it running to warm up while you’re still inside your house getting ready to leave.   Unfortunately, this can be an open invitation to auto thieves who only need a few seconds to get into your car and drive away with it.   Once a thief is inside your car, there is often very little you can do to stop him from getting away.

2.       Don’t leave your keys in the ignition, in key boxes or inside your garage.

Approximately 20% of stolen vehicles are those in which the keys have been left in the ignition.   If a thief can get to your keys, they can get your car, even if the car is parked in your garage or driveway.

Never hide a spare key inside your car.   If you have extra sets of keys, make sure you keep them in a secure location inside your home and never leave your keys in the ignition.

3.       Don’t leave valuables inside your car.

A car which has valuables within plain view is always a target for car thieves. Don’t leave any personal documents, credit cards or cash inside your vehicle. If you have to store valuable items in your car, make sure that you put them in the trunk, or at the very least, hide them from plain sight.   Keep in mind that stowing your valuables at your destination and then leaving your car in the parking lot can also be tempting for thieves who may be watching from the other side of the lot – so whenever possible, store your valuables before arriving at your destination.

4.       Make sure that you lock your car and roll up the windows.

About 50% of all stolen vehicles were left unlocked.   If your car is unlocked, or the windows are not rolled up all the way, a resourceful thief can get inside and steal your car.   At the very least, they can get in and have access to any of your belongings that are inside the car.   Don’t make it easy for them, keep your car locked and roll up the windows.

5.       Use your garage.

If you have a garage, park your car inside and keep the garage locked.   This makes it much harder for a thief to get access to your vehicle.

6.       Install a mechanical device that locks the steering wheel or brakes.

These devices make it more difficult to drive the vehicle and are likely to deter car thieves.

7.       Make sure that you have your license plate and vehicle identification number (VIN) written down.

This information, as well as the make, model, year and colour of your car are needed to file a stolen vehicle report and to prove that a vehicle is yours.   The more information you can provide to the police, the more likely it is that your vehicle will be recovered in the event of theft.

8.       Buy a vehicle with a security system.

Many of today’s newer vehicles have some form of anti-theft device.   Even though it may cost more to buy a vehicle with this protection, it may save you money on your car insurance premiums.   Most auto insurance companies will lower your premium if you have anti-theft protection for your car.

9.       Park in well lit areas with as many people around as possible.

More than half of all vehicle thefts occur at night.   Obviously, it’s easier to steal your car if it’s in an area with no one around or an area where thieves can conceal their activities.   Stick to parking in high-traffic, highly visible areas whenever possible.

10.       Use your emergency brake when parking.

Your car is more difficult for thieves to tow away if the emergency brake is engaged.

11.         Consider installing a vehicle tracking device.

Vehicle tracking devices can be used by the police to find your vehicle when it has been stolen. Certain vehicle manufacturers include this as a standard security device on every vehicle, and in other cases, you can have it added as an option from the factory or installed aftermarket.  Immobilizers interrupt three circuits that are required to start and operate your vehicle, including the starter, ignition and fuel supply systems when your car is turned off. These circuits can only be reactivated by a specially coded microchip in the key issued to you when you purchase your car. If you are looking for cheap car insurance, immobilizers and tracking devices that meet the National Standard of Canada can earn you a discount on your auto insurance premiums. Ask your insurance company about any discount that you might be entitled to.

12.         Have your VIN etched on the window or other major parts of the vehicle.

You can have your VIN professionally etched on a window or on other major parts of the vehicle.   This allows your vehicle to be traced more easily (even if it has been dismantled and sold as parts) and makes your car less attractive to professional thieves.

Protecting your vehicle from theft can save you time, money and stress. It can also save you money on car insurance rates, since many insurers will give you a discount on your premium if you have anti-theft protection for your car or truck.   A little bit of prevention in the short term can make your life safer and easier in the long term.