Every year, thousands of vehicles are stolen in Canada. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) says auto theft costs Canadians close to $1 billion every year, including $542 million for insurance companies to fix or replace stolen vehicles. In Équité Association’s list of this year’s Top 10 Stolen Vehicles in Canada, the 2018 Ford F150 pick-up series ranks as the number one vehicle thieves target nationwide, with the 2018 Honda CR-V SUV ranking second.
Stolen cars, trucks, and SUVs are often used in other crimes such as street racing, and are dismantled for parts or shipped overseas to be resold. It’s always good to start thinking about protecting the vehicle you purchase by finding out what models are more susceptible to thefts by reviewing the Canadian Loss Experience Automobile Rating system. Theft deterrents not only help to protect your car, but they can also help you earn a lower auto insurance premium.
Here are some steps that you can take to protect your car from theft:
1. Never leave your car running if it’s unattended
During cold, Canadian winters, it’s often tempting to start your car and leave it running to warm up while you’re inside your house getting ready to go — or while you dash into a store.
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.
2. Don’t leave your keys in the ignition, in key boxes, or inside your garage
Many vehicles are stolen when keys are left in the ignition. If a thief can get to your keys, they can get your car — even if it 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 them in the ignition.
If your vehicle has a keyless remote entry fob and push-button ignition system, don’t leave it near the front entrance of your house unless you have a protective box or bag that is designed to block the key fob’s signal. There is a growing trend among criminals to use wireless transmitters which can capture key fob signals through the door of a house, unlock and start your vehicle, and drive away undetected.
3. Don’t leave valuables inside your car
A car that has valuables within plain view is always a target for car thieves. Don’t leave any personal documents, electronics, credit cards, or cash inside your vehicle.
If you must store valuable items in your car, make sure 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. So whenever possible, store your valuables before arriving at your destination.
4. Make sure that you lock your car and roll up the windows
Many stolen vehicles are 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.
5. Park in a garage
If you have a garage, park your car inside and keep the garage locked. That 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
Anti-theft devices such as a steering wheel or brake lock make it more challenging to drive the vehicle and are likely to deter car thieves.
7. Know your licence plate and Vehicle Information Number (VIN)
You need to know your licence plate number and VIN, as well as the make, model, year, and colour of your car to file a stolen vehicle report and prove that a vehicle is yours. The more information you can provide the police, the more likely it is that your car will be recovered in the event of a theft.
8. Buy a vehicle with a security system
Many of today’s 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. Most auto insurance companies will lower your premium if your car has anti-theft protection among its features.
9. Park in well-lit areas with as many people around as possible
More than half of all vehicle thefts occur at night. It’s easier to steal your car if it’s in a secluded area or 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. Install a vehicle tracking device or immobilizer
The police can use vehicle tracking devices to find your vehicle when it has been stolen. Certain vehicle manufacturers include this as a standard security device on every vehicle. 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. Immobilizers and tracking devices that have a National Standard of Canada designation can earn you a discount on your auto insurance premium.
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 other major parts of the vehicle. This number 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 and stress. It can also save you money on car insurance rates since many insurance providers 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 for the long haul.
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