Tips to stop car theft
Owners of pre-2008 models can opt to install an after-market immobilizer but should ensure that it is Transport Canada-approved and seek out a facility that adheres to the IBC's installation protocol. The installation, which takes only a few hours, varies widely in cost depending on the type of car and your location, but will likely be offset in lower insurance costs.
Don't be a target
Though certain models may be more appealing to thieves in different regions, Elizabeth Popowich, manager of public information and strategic communication at Regina Police Service, says thieves will always opt for an easy target. "It really comes down to any vehicle that presents an easy opportunity. The easiest car to steal is one that's left running with the keys in the ignition, followed by one that's unlocked with spare keys in the glovebox or console. It's not so much about a certain make or model…it's about opportunity," she says.
Still, a little research can go a long way. "If you live in an area that is prone to vehicle theft, pay very close attention to your choice of vehicle," says Moore.
Robertson echoes this advice, adding, "The car that's being stolen in downtown Toronto is a lot different than the car that's being stolen in Alberta," he says, noting that high-end cars tend to be targeted in Toronto while pickup trucks are notoriously targeted in western Canada.
Next steps to safety
Besides installing an immobilizer or an alarm, just adding a simple steering wheel lock can make a difference. "If I'm walking through a parking lot and I see two identical cars but one has a lock and one doesn't, which am I going for as a thief? It's prevention," says Robertson.
According to Olsen, other ways to keep your car safe are common sense:
- Park in well lit areas near pedestrian traffic.
- Remove your possessions (including shopping bags, spare change, electronics, briefcases, etc.).
- Never keep spare keys in the vehicle and make sure to remove valet keys.
If it happens to you
Though Lam was an innocent party -- the thieves broke in through her window to a locked car -- she says she didn't file an insurance claim. "We didn't report it because the estimated damages were under the amount needed to get a claim," she says. Losing her iPod and some CDs, Lam was lucky to have her car back almost immediately. In other cases, recovering a car can take weeks, or in worse situations, a car might never be found.
Still, in the event that you do become a victim, don't let the fear of a higher insurance rate deter you from making a claim. "Insurance rates depend on so many different things and no individual thing would impact it. They look at so many factors, but if your car is stolen, that's what your comprehensive insurance is for," says Robertson.
Cheryl Madliger is a freelance writer in London, Ont.