How to prevent car theft

12 minute read Published on Feb 18, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Masked Man Trying to Steal Modern Compact a Parking Lot

Car theft is on the rise and a serious concern for Canadians. According to a May 2023 report commissioned by the Canadian Finance & Leasing Association, a car is stolen every six minutes on average. It is an alarming statistic because, according to Auto Remarketing Canada, Statistics Canada reports that the number of cars stolen in 2023 is trending to surpass the high car theft volumes of 2022. In fact, auto thefts have been deemed a "crisis" in our country.

Équité Association reports that Canadian private auto insurers paid $1.2 billion in theft claims in 2022 for the first time in history. This amount will likely continue to balloon as organized car theft shows no sign of slowing down. Car theft is a concern not only for insurance companies but also for vehicle owners, who are concerned about the financial loss they suffer, and people feel uneasy about the safety of their communities.

When the world seems gloomy and unsafe in many ways, taking precautions to prevent vehicle theft is essential. There are several safety measures and precautions to make your vehicle theft-proof and ensure you have the right protection if something goes wrong.

Why is car theft in Canada on the rise?

The main culprit to rising auto theft in Canada is organized crime groups. It has become common for crime groups to maintain their revenue flows by stealing vehicles, exporting them, and selling them in local markets. These groups use sophisticated techniques to find your vehicle with a tracking system and intercept the radio frequency of a key fob to unlock it remotely. Another technique car thieves use nowadays is reprogramming the car with the electronic diagnostic port found under the steering wheel.

Once the car thieves are inside your stolen vehicle, crime groups can do practically anything they want with it. It is common for crime groups to dismantle your car for parts to sell on the black market. They may also give the car a false vehicle identification number (VIN) and use it as part of their illegal operations.

Experts blame a few factors for why organized crime groups have turned to auto thefts. If you have been following the auto industry over the last few years, you know the average price of a new or used car in Canada has increased. With rising car prices in the used and new car market and supply shortages, selling stolen cars or car parts can be lucrative.

In addition to the lucrative auto market, the anti-theft standards for Canadian vehicles were last updated in 2007. It was before keyless entry became a popular feature you see on virtually every car sold now. The technology features in many newer vehicles, like keyless entry and push-start ignitions, can make it easier for car thieves, and older vehicles lack the security features to be safe.

The most commonly stolen cars

Many of the stolen cars in Canada are common and practical vehicles, not the flashy luxury vehicles you think people are attracted to. According to the same Équité Association report mentioned above, here are the makes and models of the top 10 most stolen cars of 2022 from most common to least common:

  1. 2020 Honda CR-V
  2. 2022 Dodge RAM 1500 Series
  3. 2020 Ford F150 Series
  4. 2020 Lexus RX Series
  5. 2021 Toyota Highlander
  6. 2019 Honda Civic
  7. 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee
  8. 2020 Land Rover Range Rover
  9. 2006 Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/Sierra 1500 Series
  10. 2021 Jeep Wrangler

The specific makes and models vary by region. For example, Alberta's most common stolen cars were the 2014 Dodge RAM 1500 Series, followed by the 2007 Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/Sierra 1500 Series. The most stolen vehicles in Quebec were the 2020 Honda CR-V, followed by the 2020 Acura RDX.

Even if you do not own one of these vehicles, it is essential to take precautions to prevent car theft and ensure the safety of your belongings.

How to prevent car theft: tips every driver should know

Preventing car theft is a communal responsibility to ensure the safety of our communities and to discourage the continued rise in auto theft. Most new cars have built-in anti-theft systems that help prevent car theft, but older vehicles may not have the technology. Regardless, here are some tips every driver should know:

Apply a multi-layered approach to protecting your vehicle

There are many common sense measures you can take to create a multi-layered approach to protect your vehicle:

  • Keep your car doors locked, even when stepping away for a few seconds.
  • Never leave your keys in the ignition with the engine running.
  • Do not leave your car unattended with the engine on.
  • Make sure all windows are fully closed when you leave the car.
  • Park in a well-lit area, a parking lot with lots of traffic, or a secure or locked garage.

Install anti-theft devices

An anti-theft device is a gadget that protects your car against vehicle theft. Invest in at least one good-quality visual or audible anti-theft system available on the market. Here are some common ones you can purchase:

  • a steering wheel lock or a pedal lock
  • an audible car alarm that will sound if someone tampers with your vehicle
  • a video surveillance system in your car or facing where you regularly park your car so you know if someone approached and tampered with your vehicle
  • a kill switch that the driver manually turns to the off position, which severs the connection between the battery and the onboard electronics
  • a signal-blocking pouch for your car key fob to stop any car thief from amplifying RFID signals

Anti-theft systems make it harder for unwanted people to access your vehicle.

Increase your home security system

A proper home security system keeps your family and belongings safe inside your home and helps detect a potential car thief. Home alarms, bright lights or motion lights, video surveillance cameras, driveway alarms, and contact and tilt sensors are all great ways to increase the security of your home and driveway. These are great measures to ensure you always know who's coming near your house or car.

Organize your garage so you can park indoors

Cars parked in your driveway are easy targets for car thieves. Whether it's summer or winter, parking your car inside your garage is one of the easiest ways to protect your vehicle against car thefts.

Protect your garage door opener

Don't think your car is 100% safe just because it's parked in your garage. Like a keyless car fob, car thieves can amplify the signal of your garage door opener. Keep your garage opener in a secure spot away from the front door, and never leave it in an unattended vehicle. For example, you can put your garage door opener in a signal-blocking pouch.

Protect your VIN

Car thieves can copy your vehicle identification number, which leads to car identity fraud because criminals can use it to register a stolen vehicle. You can etch the VIN into the windows or another visible part of the car so police can easily track if your vehicle is reported stolen and return it to you. A visible VIN can also be less attractive to car thieves as they will need extra measures to resell your car or register it to another vehicle. You should also keep a copy of your VIN at home so you can prove ownership and give it to your insurance company or the police immediately.

Ensure valuables are out of sight

Do not leave valuables in the car if possible. Public spaces often have warning signs to keep your valuables close to you to prevent them from being stolen. The same applies to the valuables in your vehicle, especially when your vehicle is unattended. You don't want to attract potential car thieves because of anything that looks flashy. You can hide them in the trunk or under the seats or take them with you when you leave.

Don't leave your garage door open

Leaving your garage door open gives car thieves direct access to any vehicles parked inside, or worse, they can enter your home. Whether you are home, visiting the neighbours for a quick chat, or running an errand, double-check your garage doors to ensure they are always closed.

Have a reliable recovery system

While a reliable recovery system may not deter people who steal cars, it can improve the chances of recovering your stolen vehicle. Many new cars have built-in tracking devices to locate where your vehicle is at all times. You can also install GPS tracking devices or hide trackers like the AirTag.

What to do if your vehicle is stolen

The first thing you should do when your vehicle is stolen is to file a police report immediately. Filing a report notifies the police of the theft so they can take the necessary steps to recover it if possible. You should also provide GPS tracking information or a copy of your VIN if you have it. It makes it easier for them to track the vehicle and identify any criminal activity. You should also inform the police of anything in the car that must be replaced immediately, like house keys, garage key fobs, and other valuables.

You should also contact your insurance company to see if you have theft protection and file a claim. Comprehensive car coverage, specified perils, or all perils typically cover auto theft and vandalism. Your insurance policy may be able to compensate you for the financial loss incurred.

Does a stolen vehicle increase your insurance premium?

Many factors come into play when looking at your insurance premium. While filing a theft claim may not increase your insurance premium, your total claims and location influence your insurance rate. For example, if you made a lot of insurance claims previously, the insurance company may increase your premium to reflect the risk you pose as a customer. The insurance company may also increase your premium if you live in an area with a high vehicle crime rate.

There are makes and models that are more expensive to insure than others. For example, a luxury vehicle or a car that thieves are more likely to target may cost you more to purchase auto insurance. To avoid high insurance premiums, you may want to avoid cars on the list of the top 10 most likely to be stolen listed above.

Regardless of what car you purchase, comparing auto insurance rates from many providers is always a best practice. BrokerLink makes it easy to shop insurance quotes to find the best deals and discounts for the policy that fits your needs.

How can car insurance protect me if I'm a victim of vehicle theft?

Comprehensive auto coverage can protect you against financial loss if someone steals your car. It includes coverage for damaged car parts, such as broken windows or slashed tires, stolen vehicles, stolen or damaged key fobs, fire damage, etc. You should read your auto insurance policy carefully to understand the exclusions and restrictions.

However, does car insurance cover stolen items? Unfortunately, comprehensive car insurance typically does not cover any personal items within the car when the vehicle is stolen. For example, you won't be compensated if you lose your phone, laptop, or wallet because your vehicle was stolen. You will have to review your homeowners or renter's insurance policy to see if you have coverage for loss of personal property.

What are other types of auto insurance that can protect me?

Car thieves are clever and can orchestrate all sorts of scenarios to steal your vehicle, or you may end up paying for collateral damages. Several types of auto insurance can come in handy in the event of a carjacking or theft:

Third-party liability insurance

Third-party liability car insurance protects you against claims from someone else resulting from bodily injury and property damage to the person. It covers legal fees, lawsuit settlements, medical expenses, and other associated legal fees. You don't necessarily need to go to court to use your liability car insurance coverage. Your insurance provider can seek restitution if you injure someone or damage their property, such as their fence or car.

Accident benefits coverage

Accident benefits coverage provides coverage if you or someone else is injured or killed in a car accident and requires medical attention, regardless of who caused the accident. It offers benefits for income replacement, caregivers, medical and rehabilitation, death and funeral, etc. While we hope you don't need to file a claim for accident benefits auto insurance, it is mandatory in most Canadian provinces and territories and can come in handy.

Collision car insurance

Collision car coverage protects you and your vehicle in collision with another car or object. It covers repairs or replacements needed regardless of who was at fault. While collision coverage is optional in most cases, it never hurts to consider it.

Comprehensive car insurance

Comprehensive car insurance protects your vehicle from weather-related incidents, including fire, flood and water damage. It also extends to other forms of damage, such as vandalism or theft and collision with an animal.

Accident forgiveness

You can add accident forgiveness as an endorsement on your auto insurance. It protects your driving record and can help prevent your insurance premium from increasing if you have an at-fault accident claim. If you are concerned about paying more insurance after an insurance claim because of a carjacking or theft, you should consider purchasing accident forgiveness coverage.

Some events may not be covered by your insurance policy. For example, your standard auto policy may not have insurance coverage for towing after an accident, or the coverage is only applicable in certain cases. Our BrokerLink experts can help navigate auto insurance to find a package that works for you.

What are insurance companies doing about vehicle theft?

Some insurance companies offer incentives to customers who install anti-theft devices to make it harder for people to steal their cars. For example, Aviva Canada offers a 20% discount on comprehensive coverage if you buy an anti-theft device like Tag, and the CAA will remove the surcharge on your Toyota Highlander if you purchase a steering wheel lock. Most of these companies require proof that you have anti-theft systems in place.

You're always encouraged to contact your insurance providers to see if they have incentives for making your car safer. Not only does it save you some extra dollars on your vehicle or insurance, but it can also save you from substantial vehicle theft loss.

How much is car insurance per month in Ontario?

As mentioned above, several contributing factors determine the price of insurance per month. The average monthly rate of insurance premiums ranges between $125 to $458, depending on the part of Ontario you live in. For example, Toronto car insurance may be more expensive than North Bay due to more traffic and potential accidents or risks in the city. Premiums can be as low as around $1500 per year or as high as $2900 per year.

Location is one of the main factors, with insurance premiums varying greatly based on your city. Insurance companies examine individual driver information, such as age, driving history, vehicle, personal data, reason for driving, etc. There are also factors you can't control that influence your insurance rate, such as vehicle safety, theft rates, other claims data, and the cost to repair. Insurance companies take your information and look at historical data and risks associated with all factors to derive your risk as a customer and an appropriate premium rate.

How can I lower my car insurance premium?

Driving safely is one of the easiest ways to lower your car insurance premium. Less accidents equals fewer insurance claims and a better driving record, which insurers look at when determining your premium. Learn about the four common car accidents and actively take precautions to prevent them from happening.

The next best thing to do is to shop around and compare quotes. While policies may look similar, specific details, inclusions, exclusions, and discounts may differ between insurance providers. Auto insurance is an expensive long-term financial commitment, so it's best to make your purchase decision after careful research.

Ready for affordable auto insurance with BrokerLink?

At BrokerLink, we know auto insurance. It's easy to do your research and compare options online. But you don't get the confidence and peace of mind you do with expert guidance. With offices across Canada, our experts are ready to help. We take time to understand your lifestyle, driving habits, and insurance needs, but it only takes five minutes to get competitive quotes from different insurance providers.

We don't determine your car insurance rates. Instead, we search through our network of insurance providers to find the best policy and price for your specific needs. Need comprehensive coverage or worried about collisions or accident forgiveness? You can tell us all about it, and we'll find a policy you're happy with. With an auto insurance expert in your corner, the process becomes simplified, less stressful, and less time-consuming.

In addition to finding affordable, robust insurance coverage, you get support when reporting claims. We provide claims advice on what you need to do and where to go to file a claim with your insurance provider. As a broker, we can confirm your coverage, explain the claims process, and answer any questions you have. We can also be your advocate throughout the process, ensuring things go smoothly and making your life easier during these scary and stressful situations.

Get your auto insurance quote today online, or stop into one of our 200+ offices to speak to a licensed insurance advisor.

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