How to prevent car theft
Preventing car theft
Did you know that auto theft costs Canadians almost $1 billion every year?1 Or that in just 30 seconds, an experienced car thief can steal your ride without a key?2 But wait, there is good news – there are preventative actions that you can take. On top of never leaving a vehicle running unattended and always ensuring your windows and doors are closed and locked, there are also anti-theft products you can put to good use. We’ve pulled together a list of 5 types of anti-theft devices (and other tips) to help you protect your ride. Plus, we’ve answered a few additional questions on the topic of car theft

Anti-theft devices and systems

1. Car alarm. You’ve probably accidentally turned on a car alarm at least once in your life, and we can all agree that the sound of a car alarm is hard to miss. An alarm will most likely come pre-installed in your car (depending on the year, make, and model) and can alert you to someone trying to get into your car. Car alarms can also act as a good deterrent in stopping a thief from stealing your ride, as it can bring unwanted attention to your vehicle.

2. Additional locks. These might take a little bit of manual work on your end, but adding one or more extra locks to your parked vehicle will make it harder for someone else to take off with your car, or parts of it. Here are a few examples:

  • A steering wheel lock is placed on your steering wheel to stop someone from being able to turn the wheel.
  • A brake lock can be used with your car’s brake pedal or clutch. When installed, it prevents the driver from pushing down on the pedal.
  • A wheel lock is a special lug nut that goes on each of your tires and has a specific key for removal. This may not prevent your entire car from being stolen, but it can protect your rims or tires from going missing. There’s also the tire lock option of a boot that clamps to your tire and locks in place, keeping the car where it is.
  • A hood lock is an extra precaution over and above your hood latch. With a hood lock, your car’s hood can’t be opened without a key, which helps to keep everything under your hood (like your engine) protected.

As for which of the above to use and when? That is up to you and your vehicle. For example, you may only want to use a boot if your vehicle is going to be parked for a longer period of time. In comparison, wheel nut and hood locks would be on your car at all times.

3. Immobilizer. This stops your car’s engine from running without the proper key. In fact, since 2007, anti-theft engine immobilizers are mandatory in new Canadian-built cars, vans, SUVs, and light trucks.3 If you have an older or imported vehicle, you could consider having a mechanic install an aftermarket immobilizer.

4. Faraday box. Also referred to as a Faraday cage or bag, this device blocks the signal of your key fob when it’s placed inside the box. Car thieves are able to amplify the signal of your key fob when it’s out in the open, even if your keys are in the house. This allows them to start your car without your key fob nearby. A Faraday box helps to prevent this from happening.

5. Anti-theft marking. Anti-theft marking systems help discourage the theft and re-sale of your vehicle by marking or etching different vehicle parts with a unique code.

BONUS: Tracking device or software. Although it may not prevent the theft of your vehicle, having a tracking device or software installed in your car can help to locate and recover your vehicle if stolen.

Does having an anti-theft device or system lower my insurance?

Some insurance companies may offer a discount or savings for having an anti-theft device or system installed on your vehicle. Reach out to your insurance provider to find out if they provide this type of savings and what requirements need to be met (it may only apply for certain devices or systems).

Other tips for preventing car theft

  1. Never leave your vehicle running unattended (this includes in the winter when you’re trying to warm up your car).
  2. Make sure all windows are closed and all doors are locked.
  3. Don’t leave electronics and valuables in your car (such as dash cams). If you need to leave anything in your car, try to keep it out of sight.
  4. Always park in a well-lit spot.
  5. At home, park your car in your garage (if you can).
  6. Keep track of your keys and avoid leaving them out in the open both when out and at home.

What are stolen vehicles used for?

On average, a car is stolen in Canada every 6 minutes.2 As for why, there are a variety of reasons. The thieves may plan on selling your vehicle abroad or even to a fellow Canadian who has no idea that they’re purchasing a stolen vehicle. Or, the thieves could be interested in selling the vehicle for scrap parts instead.1

There are also instances where someone may take a car for a joyride or use it as a tool in another crime.1 On the other hand, it’s possible that the thieves aren’t actually interested in your car at all, but rather what’s inside. If they get their hands on important documentation, like your pink slip, you could end up being the victim of identity theft, or even insurance fraud.4

Is my vehicle at risk of being stolen?

Some makes and models are targeted more often by car thieves than others. Across Canada, the top ten stolen vehicles in 2019 were:1

  1. 2007 FORD F350 SD 4WD
  2. 2006 FORD F350 SD 4WD
  3. 2005 FORD F350 SD 4WD
  4. 2004 FORD F350 SD 4WD
  5. 2006 FORD F250 SD 4WD
  6. 2003 FORD F350 SD 4WD
  7. 2018 LEXUS RX350/RX350L/RX450h/RX450hL 4DR AWD
  8. 2005 FORD F250 SD 4WD
  9. 2002 FORD F350 SD 4WD

You can also visit the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s website to find out the top ten stolen vehicles in your province.

Did you know? If a certain make and model of vehicle has been shown to be stolen more frequently, it can impact that vehicle’s rating. In other words, it could make that vehicle more expensive to insure.

What coverage protects my vehicle against theft?

There are a couple of different coverage options under your auto policy that come into play if your vehicle is stolen:

  1. Specified perils or comprehensive coverage. Both of these physical damage coverages will cover your vehicle if it’s stolen, except for if it’s stolen by someone in your household, an employee, or someone working at a mechanic’s garage.
  2. All perils. This coverage acts like a combination of collision and comprehensive coverage. It also includes coverage against theft, but this time will apply if someone in your house or an employee steals the vehicle

As for coverage for items stolen from your vehicle, this will depend on what was stolen. Coverage may even come from your home policy.

What should I do if my vehicle is stolen?

If your vehicle is ever stolen, you’ll want to report this to the police as soon as possible. You’ll also want to give your insurance company a call so a claims adjuster can walk you through the necessary steps. Just keep in mind, they will require a copy of the police report.

In most provinces, you’ll need to wait 72 hours after reporting your missing vehicle to the police for your claim to move forward. This is because your vehicle may be recovered within that timeframe.

Will I be provided with a rental vehicle if my car is stolen?

If your entire car is stolen and you have specified perils, comprehensive, or all perils coverage, your auto policy may help cover the cost of a rental vehicle comparable to your own, or with the cost of taxis or public transportation

The limit of this coverage varies by province and is provided by provincial policy wordings. For example, in Alberta, Nova Scotia and PEI, this coverage is limited to $25 a day, up to a total of $750. In Ontario, the limit is $900, and in New Brunswick coverage is $30 a day up to a maximum of $900. In Quebec, coverage is limited to a maximum of $40 a day and a total of $1,200 for the loss.

But, if you chose to purchase additional loss of use or transportation replacement coverage, you’ll typically be provided with a higher limit for rental coverage. Also, buying this optional coverage may waive the 72-hour wait period that would otherwise be required.

To find out exactly how you’re covered in the event your vehicle is stolen, be sure to review your auto policy or reach out to your insurance provider.

All in all, taking the time to be proactive can help you protect your car from falling victim to theft in the first place. Do your research to find out how car theft impacts your neighbourhood and what you can do to prevent it.

Coverage your car’s always wanted at a competitive price. 1. Top ten stolen vehicles 2. Auto theft 3. Anti-theft device now mandatory in Canadian-made vehicles 4. Gone in 60 seconds: Canada’s top 10 stolen vehicles