Vehicle theft in Canada costs everyone.
An average of one vehicle is stolen every six minutes, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). This costs Canadian drivers almost $1 billion each year, more than half of which - about $542 million - is spent by insurance companies to fix or replace stolen vehicles.
But there are ways Canadian drivers can help in the battle against theft - safeguarding their vehicles to prevent financial losses and the inconvenience of dealing with a stolen car. Here’s a list of tips:
- Lock your doors and roll up the windows.Sounds obvious, right? But why make your vehicle a target when it’s easy to reduce the risk of theft. Close your sunroof too!
- Don’t leave your keys or car running unattended.We know it’s cold and it’s nice to get into a toasty car, but when you warm your vehicle in the driveway with the keys in the ignition while you’re getting ready in the house, you’re providing a thief with the perfect opportunity.
- Take advantage of other security features.While many newer vehicles have car alarms, thieves can get around these systems. Consider using steering wheel locks or car wheel clamps that make it impossible to drive the car. Lug nuts are inexpensive which also make it a challenge to remove and steal tires and rims.
- Don’t leave valuables in plain sight. The more visible valuables are the more tempting they are to thieves. Put them in your trunk. Don’t leave loose change, sunglasses, dash cams or portable navigation systems where they can be easily seen. Also, avoid leaving spare keys or other valuables in the glove box since thieves will often check there.
- Park in a safe area –Use the garage. If you don’t have one and must park on the street, park in a well-lit area. Other options include a populated parking lot with security cameras or attendant. Also, remember that some insurers may offer you a discount for private parking. Check with your broker.
- Install a home security camera –Another way to make your vehicle less attractive if you must park in your driveway is to install an exterior home security camera that has a clear view of your car and can easily be seen from the street. A model that has motion-activated floodlights offers even more protection. This has the added bonus of possibly getting you an additional discount on your home insurance!
- Keep your smart key protected– Just as vehicles have become more sophisticated, so have thieves. Signals from your key fob activated starter can be emulated by thieves, making the convenience of keeping your keys by the door or windows not worth the risk.
- Make sure you have an immobilizer –Most cars today have an electronic security device that only starts the engine if the right key is present. However, if you don’t have one, installing it will make it much harder to steal. This prevents thieves from hot-wiring a vehicle to start the engine.
- Install a tracker– These devices send a signal to police or a monitoring service – such as OnStar. While it might not prevent theft, it can help locate and recover a stolen vehicle. However, Ratehub.ca cautions drivers that criminals can also make use of these smart devices. “A form of vehicle theft that is gaining prominence involves attaching a tracker to a desirable vehicle,” the firm warned. “Criminals can then observe exactly where the car is parked and strike at an opportune time.” They advise vehicle owners to quickly check of areas where trackers may be hidden including under bumpers, in wheel wells, inside front grates, and behind gas caps.
- Use the emergency brake when parking -Some criminals have also resorted to using tow trucks to steal cars. While the emergency brake won’t prevent a theft, it will slow the process down making your vehicle less of a target.
- Have your VIN etched on the window or other visible parts of the vehicle.The VIN allows police to easily identify a stolen vehicle even if it has been dismantled. Having it etched on the window or other visible parts of the vehicle makes a car less attractive to thieves since they will need to take extra steps to sell the car or its parts.
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