The Insurance Bureau of Canada reports that auto thefts cost Canadians $1 billion per year because of organized auto theft rings.
What steps can you take to avoid becoming part of these statistics? Here are seven simple actions that can save you the stress and expense of a vehicle theft.
1. Keep your doors locked, even when driving
Locked doors are the easiest way to prevent vehicle theft. Commit to keeping your doors locked everywhere, even places that appear relatively safe. For example, parking your vehicle at home might feel safe. You might feel the same comfort at the neighborhood grocery store. However, it’s this comfort that thieves prey on to steal your vehicle. They’re more likely to gain access to your vehicle if you let down your guard. Locking your doors is a simple action that can deter thieves.
2. Keep your windows rolled up
When the weather is nice, it’s tempting to leave your vehicle windows down. You may even think leaving windows down just a crack is harmless. The reality is it takes only a crack for vehicle thieves to gain access to your vehicle. They can use that crack to unlock and quickly steal your vehicle. Keep your windows rolled up to deter thieves from spotting your vehicle as an easy target.
3. Install an anti-theft system in your vehicle
Anti-theft systems make stealing your vehicle difficult. There are a number of options on the market:
- Steering wheel locks attach to your steering wheel and immediately deter any thief who looks in your window.
- Ignition cutoff systems, or “kill switches,” are another effective way to prevent thieves from starting your vehicle if they get in.
- Electronic tracking systems use GPS to locate stolen vehicles. Popular models like Lojack have successful recovery rates.
Additionally, if you own a new vehicle it might have a passive alarm that activates the moment the vehicle is turned off. Some systems even emit a signal that police can track if your vehicle is stolen.
4. Select parking spots carefully
Be aware of your surroundings, especially in parking garages where thieves can work under the cover of darkness. A location where people can’t view or hear activity around your vehicle, such as windows breaking, is a high-risk area for parking. Instead, select high-traffic areas. For example, park close to elevators and pathways where visibility would deter thieves from targeting your vehicle.
5. Etch the VIN in your vehicle windows
Vehicle identification number (VIN) etching is the permanent engraving of your vehicle’s VIN on its windshield and windows. It is difficult for a thief to sell a vehicle with VIN-etched windows.
6. Never leave your vehicle on and unattended
You may live in a neighborhood that feels safe. Kids play outside, you know the neighbors and crime doesn’t happen frequently. But just because a neighborhood feels safe doesn’t mean thieves won’t target your vehicle. Avoid leaving keys in the ignition or the vehicle running, even if just for a moment. It takes only minutes to steal a vehicle, and even less time when the vehicle is running.
7. Avoid keeping important papers or spare keys in your vehicle
Do you keep your vehicle title inside your vehicle? This makes black market sales easier. Also avoid hiding keys anywhere on the vehicle. For instance, hikers might place a single key above the tire to lighten their load, especially while trail jogging. But thieves know about this practice, and it enables them to quickly steal vehicles.
No matter how old your vehicle is, never rule out the possibility of it being stolen. In fact, older models can be easier to break into than new models, and they are frequently stolen for parts.