car theft prevention in canada

Few property crimes are more common in Canada than car theft. But there's a silver lining amid all the missing chrome: few crimes are more preventable, either.

the issue of car theft in canada

Statistics Canada estimates that there's one car theft in Canada every 7 minutes, and one car break-in every 3 minutes. Even though these numbers are trending downward (awesome), car theft remains one of the most prevalent property crimes in the country (not so awesome).

Why is car theft so common? For one thing, the recovery rate of stolen vehicles is quite low, which could leave thieves with an inflated sense of anonymity and safety. Car theft is also one of the most lucrative crimes, offering criminals large payouts for redistributing whole cars to unsuspecting customers or selling individual parts to chop shops.

All told, car theft costs Canadians nearly $600 million per year.

Most stolen cars in Canada

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), the 10 most stolen cars in Canada in 2013 were:

  1. 2000 Honda Civic
  2. 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer
  3. 2002 Cadillac Escalade
  4. 2005 Cadillac Escalade
  5. 2006 Ford F350
  6. 2005 Cadillac Escalade ESV
  7. 2006 Acura RSX
  8. 2007 Ford F250
  9. 2007 Ford F350
  10. 2003 Acura RSX

There's little mystery as to why the Honda Civic is often stolen — it happens to be the most popular car in the country, meaning theft opportunities abound.

Beyond that, trucks and 4WD vehicles are particularly hot targets, as there's a big market for these rugged models within other parts of the country. Before being resold, stolen vehicles have their vehicle identification numbers (VIN) replaced so they're harder for law enforcement to track.

Higher-end vehicles are also popular marks. There's a high demand overseas for their individual parts, and thieves will target them solely for disassembly.

Of course, whether you own a car on this list or not, no driver is immune to auto theft. Thieves will take whatever's available to them, so it's important to keep your ride as secure as possible.

car theft prevention tips

There are a number of simple car theft prevention methods you can take to help secure your ride in Canada:

Always turn off and lock up

It takes thieves an average of just 30 seconds to steal a car — no need to make it any faster for them! Even if you're just picking up dry cleaning, avoid the temptation to leave the car running or the doors unlocked.

Take your keys

If you do choose to leave your car unlocked (which, again, we wouldn't), at least grab your keys. A dangling set of keys left in the ignition might as well be a "Steal Me!" sign on your bumper.

Invest in antitheft devices

Car alarms are helpful, but they’re just the tip of the car-theft-prevention iceberg. You can also consider steering wheel locks and protective steering columns, as well as car-disabling locks for the ignition, fuel, and other systems. And an installed tracking system can help the police locate your car if it is stolen.

Keep your ID on you

Avoid leaving your driver's licence, car registration, or other personal documents of this nature in the vehicle. If a thief makes off with your ride and is pulled over before the incident's been reported, he or she could try to use your ID as proof that you lent the car willingly.

Park in well-lit areas

Visibility is a car thief's worst enemy. They don't want to be spotted and identified, so they're less likely to mess with a car that's parked under bright lights.

Make your car a towing headache

When parking, turn your wheels toward the curb (unless you're parked uphill) and pull the handbrake to make your car that much less mobile. This could deter would-be thieves who want to tow your ride away quickly and quietly.

Shut your windows and sunroof

Leaving your windows cracked when parked in hot weather can mean a mercifully cooler ride upon your return, but it's not worth the risk (unless you have a pet in the car, of course, which you should try to avoid). Even the tiniest opening invites break-ins. If you're worried your car will get too hot sitting on the street or in a parking lot, look for spots under trees or invest in sun shades.

Don't leave valuables in plain sight

Items like shopping bags, suitcases, and smartphones entice thieves. Keep all valuables in the trunk if you have to leave them in your car.

how your car insurance can help

Despite your best car theft prevention efforts, you never know when thieves can strike. Thankfully, if you fall victim to this crime, your auto insurance has your back.

If you have comprehensive coverage on your policy, you can get reimbursed the cost of your stolen vehicle. And by selecting a loss of use endorsement when purchasing coverage, you can secure a rental car in the meantime so your daily life doesn't miss a beat.

If you find your car's not where it's supposed to be, alert the police and then file your claim. You can also give us a call at 1-888-ESURANCE (1-888-378-7262) and we'll walk you through the process.