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Tips to stop car theft

"I didn't think it would happen to me. I was parked in broad daylight, and it's not like I even drive a nice car," says Bonnie Lam says about the time her 2005 Toyota Matrix was targeted by thieves at the Pacific Mall in Markham, Ont.

Like Lam, most people don’t think of themselves as possible targets, but auto theft is an all too common issue across the country.

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, or IBC, auto theft costs each policyholder an additional $35 on his or her insurance premium. For that, you will be reimbursed for your loss in the event of a theft, says Garry Robertson, IBC's national director of investigative services.

"Theft is covered under the comprehensive section of your insurance… Each policy will be a little different -- some will be based on value, some will offer full reimbursement, but as long as you're just an innocent party, it's covered," says Robertson, noting that many owners of older cars can't afford comprehensive coverage. For those individuals, an incident can be devastating.

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But here's the good news: According to Matt Moore, vice president of the Highway Loss Data Institute, the Arlington, Va.-based group responsible for collecting and publishing data about the most commonly targeted vehicles, rates are showing a promising trend. "Generally speaking vehicle theft is declining. We suspect that part of what's happening is that most vehicles now have an anti-theft device on them from the factory," he says, pointing to immobilizers that make stealing a vehicle without its key impossible.

How immobilizers work
"[Immobilizers] reduce the chance of theft by at least 80 per cent," says Lindsay Olsen, media relations officer at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.

"Immobilizers work so that somebody has to have the right key. If somebody tries to start your car [without it], they're not going to be able to because of a cutoff," says Robertson.

Immobilizer systems prevent cars from starting by blocking the starter, the ignition, and the fuel, offering three layers of protection. Considered the most effective anti-theft device, all new cars sold in Canada since 2008 come fitted with mandatory systems.

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-- Posted October 19, 2011
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