You may remember our recent post regarding auto theft statistics in which we explained how your insurance premium may be effected by the statistical likelihood your vehicle will be stolen. It’s true that some vehicles are more appealing than others to car thieves. However, whether your vehicle falls on “The Worst Ten” or “The Best Ten” list, the simple fact is that all vehicles are at risk of being stolen.
Why are cars stolen?
60% of recovered vehicles in Ontario were used in what is deemed “transportation crimes” in which the vehicle is used and then abandoned.
- To commit other crimes.
- To raise cash for other illegal activities such as drug use.
- For joyrides.
40% are the result of organized crime.
- To be dismantled and sold off as parts or rebuilt as cars and sold off to unsuspecting buyers.
- To be sold at many times their market value in other countries.
According to the OPP, over 52,000 vehicles are stolen in Ontario each year, 40-65 deaths or injuries can be attributed to auto theft, and the cost to the public is $1.2 billion annually which is reflected in your insurance premium. It is increasingly important that we take precautions to protect ourselves from auto theft, and there are some simple steps we can take.
How do I prevent my car from being stolen?
- Park in well-lit and secure parking lots and garages.
If you wanted to steal a car, would you do it where someone could easily spot you? No. You would stick to the dark where no one can see and no one is looking.
- Never leave your car running while unattended.
“But I’ll only be gone for a minute.” Well, it only takes seconds for someone to put your car in gear and take off if you make it that easy for them.
- Never leave your keys in your car.
We all have that friend or relative who constantly leaves their car unlocked with the keys inside. There is no reason to do this. Keep your keys on you at all times when you’re out and in a safe place at home.
- Always close the windows and lock the doors.
A hot car is better than no car at all. So unless you’re travelling with a barking security system, close your windows and lock your doors, even when parking in your own drive way.
- Hide all valuables.
Take things like purses and mobile devices with you. If you are unable to do so, hide them as best you can. Visible valuables are tempting to thieves. Even your loose Tim Horton’s change can catch the eye of a car thief.
- Take your vehicle registration, insurance certificate, and driver’s license with you.
If a car thief has access to any of these documents they may be able to convince a police officer that you lent them your car. If an alert that your vehicle has been stolen isn’t yet out, this could mean the thief will get away with your car.
- Do not keep spare keys inside or outside the vehicle like in a wheel-well.
Everyone knows this trick, including car thieves. Leaving your spare key in the wheel-well of your vehicle is equivalent to leaving the keys in the ignition.
- Use security tools like a steering wheel lock and sound alarm.
Visible security tools will deter thieves from even trying to rip off your car. However, unrecognizable tools which literally inhibit thieves from getting away with your vehicle are also effective.
- Have your vehicles VIN etched into your windshield.
Car thieves don’t want to work hard. So having to remove a windshield is a significant deterrent. It also makes your vehicle more recognizable.
- Have a security system installed.
This will deter thieves and make your vehicle easy to recover quickly should it be stolen.
What else should I know?
If you are ever approached by a carjacker, do not resist. Your life and that of your family is more important than your car or anything in it!
Remember how we mentioned that stolen cars are often sold to unsuspecting customers? While it is a crime to sell stolen merchandise, unfortunately the customer in this case will likely be the party who is left to suffer. The car will be seized and it’s often unlikely the money will be recovered. When you are buying a used car do your research! Buy from a reputable dealer, research the VIN, inspect the vehicle registration, and inquire about the car’s current or previous insurer.