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Ways you can safeguard against car theft

Yesterday, we told you how vehicle theft is an ongoing problem in Canada with roughly more than 200 vehicles stolen every day. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) these thefts cost drivers almost $1 billion each year – more than half of which, or about $542 million, is spent by insurance companies to fix or replace stolen vehicles.

Last year alone an independent industry organization designed to protect Canadians against insurance crime, recorded an estimated 80,000 incidents of vehicle theft across the country. The association also compiled a list of the most frequently stolen vehicles in Canada and found that technology has an increasingly major impact on car thefts, especially over the past year.

Among the key auto theft trends uncovered were:

  • A rise in electronic theft as more vehicles are equipped with advanced technology such as push-button start.
  • Many high-end SUVs are being stolen by organized crime groups to be stripped down for parts or exported.
  • Stolen vehicles are given false vehicle identification numbers (VIN) and sold to unsuspecting consumers.

How can you safeguard your vehicle against theft?

To find out what industry insiders think are the most effective ways Canadian drivers can prevent against auto theft, Insurance Business Canada searched the websites of some of the country’s major industry players, including insurance companies, comparison sites, and professional organizations. Here are some of their practical tips:

Never leave the vehicle unattended while it is running.

Leaving an unattended vehicle idling is an open invitation to auto thieves. Sure, it’s tempting when the temperatures dip below freezing to start your car and leave it running to warm up while you’re inside your house getting ready or while you pop into a store. But auto thieves only a few seconds to get into your car and drive away with it.

Remote start systems can help. They allow you to start your vehicle while still keeping it locked. That way, potential thieves can’t get in and you’ll be nice and toasty by the time you hit the road.

Roll up the windows and make sure all doors are locked.

It’s no surprise that vehicles left unlocked account for a huge percentage of those taken by thieves. But even if the doors are locked, they can still get inside and steal the car if the windows are not rolled up all the way. Some provinces even impose fines on those who fail to lock their vehicles.

Don’t leave valuable items inside the vehicle.

Many thieves aren’t interested in trying to make off with your vehicle… some only want what’s inside it. To avoid making your car a target for thieves, keep valuable items hidden from plain view.

If you have any valuables in your car, make sure you place them in the trunk, and use a cargo cover if your window leaves the cargo area exposed. If you have a dash cam, you should always remove it before you exit the vehicle. Avoid leaving loose change in visible areas and items such as sunglasses or gloves. 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. If possible, stash them out of sight before you park.

Be wary of where you park.

Having a private garage to park the vehicle goes a long way in deterring potential car thieves. This not only ensures that the car is out of sight but also puts an additional obstacle that criminals need to get over. The longer it takes for criminals to access your car and the more barriers standing in their way, the less likely it is that they will target your vehicle.

Parking in a well-lit area is always a good idea.

Keep your smart key fob protected.

Most vehicles now come with electronic key fobs that make locking doors and starting the engine more convenient. But this handy feature also makes theft easier as thieves no longer need a key to access the car. 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.

It’s a good idea to keep your key fob as far away from the car as possible or inside a metal container like a coffee tin. That prevents the frequency from being transmitted, and impossible to pick up.

Install a steering wheel lock.

Don’t overlook traditional anti-theft tools. A steering wheel lock is a device that goes back to the 80s, but the fact that they’re still around just shows that they work. Couple this with any of the other modern anti-theft technologies, and thieves will think twice before trying to steal your car.

Use your emergency brake when parking.

Some criminals use tow trucks to steal cars. To make it more difficult for thieves, you can use their emergency brake when parking. Engaging your parking brake won’t necessarily stop theft by a tow truck, but it will definitely slow the process down. Thieves often look for the easiest targets, so this is a simple way to help prevent vehicle theft.

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

The VIN allows police officers to easily identify a stolen vehicle even if it has been dismantled and sold as parts. Having the VIN etched on the window or other visible parts of the vehicle also makes a car less attractive to thieves since they will need to take extra steps to have the car or its parts ready for resale.

 

Source: InsuranceBusinessCanada

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