10 tips for reducing your chances of vehicle theft

In Canada, thousands of vehicles are stolen per year. In the past year, it is estimated that some 80,000 vehicles were stolen – and that trend is only projected to rise. The IBC has even put out estimates suggesting that auto theft is costing Canadians some $1 billion per year, with an additional $500 million for insurance providers to pay out in order to replace or restore vehicles that were stolen.

Quebec alone saw a steady decline in car theft over the last decade, however recently with the worldwide car shortage, there has been an unexpected uptick. Stolen vehicles are commonly used in nighttime crime activities, such as street racing, or they are taken apart and sold in various parts of the world to global buyers. What’s there to do? We never think of ourselves as being the victims of car theft until it’s too late. Thankfully, there are some measures you can take to reduce your risk of having your car stolen. Some of these deterrents may even qualify you for a lower auto insurance premium!

Tip #1: Never leave valuables inside your car in plain sight – or at all.

Car thieves are much more likely to break into your vehicle if you leave a credit card, laptop, phone, or wallet out in plain sight on the dashboard. Ideally, you should never store valuables in your vehicle at all and take them with you each time you leave your car parked somewhere – (yes, even in your driveway!) but if you absolutely must leave them inside, ensure they are stored somewhere secure. Your trunk is a good option or a locked glove compartment. Avoid leaving valuables out in plain view at all cost.

Tip #2: Never leave your keys in the ignition, inside your garage, or in key boxes.

Among the most common causes of vehicle theft is instances where the car owner has left the key in the ignition – even if just for a few minutes. The same is true if you leave your keys somewhere that is easy to access. A key box in plain sight or hanging on a peg in your garage might not be the best idea, especially if you have a keyless remote entry fob. If these are near enough to the front entrance of your home, auto criminals can use wireless transmitters to capture fob signals and unlock your vehicle – without even needing to physically enter your home. Bottom line? Keep your keys in a secure location, preferably contained in a protective bag or box, inside your home – and away from the door.

Tip #3: Don’t leave your car running if it’s unattended.

Quebec can see some pretty harsh winters. In the cold, it can be tempting to want to leave your car running while you wait indoors so that it warms up enough by the time you’re ready to go. This, unfortunately, leaves your vehicle wide open for thieves who only need a couple of seconds to get into your car and steal it.

Tip #4: Park somewhere secure.

Vehicles are easier to steal when they’re out in the open. Even dimly lit public parking lots are more ideal than crowded, well-lit spots. If you have a garage, park your car inside and lock the garage. If you don’t, choose a spot that is easy to see, well-lit, and preferably not tucked well away from other vehicles. If your vehicle is highly visible, thieves may be less likely to steal because they cannot conceal their activities as well as if it was secluded.

Tip #5: Purchase a vehicle with a built-in security system.

Almost all of vehicles today are guaranteed to have some form of anti-theft device installed in them. It can cost you a little more to purchase a vehicle with included protection, but it will save you money in the long run. Moreover, some systems that these vehicles come with will qualify you for an insurance discount. Be sure to inform your broker about this added security layer when purchasing coverage.

Tip #6: Install an immobilizer or vehicle tracking device.

An immobilizer will interrupt the circuits required to start your vehicle, including its ignition, its fuel supply, and its starter. These circuits will only be permitted to react with a specially coded microchip in a key that has been issued to you on the purchase of your car. Immobilizers may also qualify you for an auto insurance discount.

A vehicle tracking device is also a great purchase, as it can help police to find your vehicle if it has been stolen. Some manufacturers will include this device as a standard security measure, or you can purchase it from your vehicle’s factory after the fact.

Tip #7: Etch your vehicle’s VIN on the window or your car.

You can elect to have your vehicle’s identification number etched onto a major part of your vehicle, like its window, to allow it to be easier traced and less attractive to thieves who want to resell your car to an unsuspecting buyer.

Tip #8: Install a wheel or brake lock.

Anti-theft devices that lock your steering wheel or brake are not only great ways to deter thieves due to the difficulty of driving away with a vehicle with this system implemented, but they may also qualify you for an auto insurance discount as well.

Tip #9: Use your emergency brake when parking somewhere secluded.

If you have no other choice but to park somewhere secluded or dimly lit that might not be highly visible to the public, use your emergency brake. If a thief wants to try and tow your vehicle away during the night, they’ll have a much more difficult time doing so.

Tip #10: Always lock your car and roll up the windows.

This might seem too obvious of a tip for the last on the list, but you’d be surprised at how many car owners forget to lock their vehicles. The majority of stolen vehicles are left unlocked or have their windows partly rolled down. Resourceful thieves can use even the slimmest of cracks in your window to gain access to your vehicle or, at the very least, the contents within your car.

Preventing vehicle theft doesn’t take a lot of time and it can save you some stress in the long run. Furthermore, it can significantly reduce your auto insurance premiums with the right installations. If you have recently purchased an anti-theft device or are planning on one, be sure to call up your auto insurance provider and let them know.