6 Tips to Prevent Car Theft in Ontario

Car thefts across the province are increasing, and the numbers are staggering. According to Toronto Police, at least 32 cars have been stolen in the metropolis each day so far in 2023. In today’s blog, we’ll look at why car theft is on the rise, how you can prevent your car from being stolen, and what to do if the inevitable happens.

Why is Car Theft on the Rise? 

Car thefts are on the rise in Canada, and thanks to Ontario’s large concentration of high-value vehicles and Quebec’s proximity to the port in Montreal, these two provinces are being hit the hardest.

According to the latest Statistics Canada data, this pervasive problem shows no signs of stopping with 83,288 vehicle thefts in 2021, up from 78,198 in 2020. Despite the ever-growing issue, the thefts resulted in 5,072 charges in 2021, falling from 5,532 charges in 2020. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the factors responsible for the rise in car theft. 

Supply Chain Issues

Supply chain issues can have a major impact on car theft. In fact, if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that the two are closely related.

During the pandemic, we saw a series of supply chain issues that hindered the amount of new and used vehicle stock significantly – from shortages of key supplies like computer chips to a drop in new vehicle production. This greatly reduced the number of cars available for sale and led to higher prices for both new and used vehicles, providing criminals with a higher incentive to steal.

Keyless Entry and Modern Tech Features

Keyless entry and other innovative tech features are also cited as contributing factors as thieves across the country bypass modern vehicle security systems and exploit their advanced technology for their own benefit.

The days of hotwiring cars are long gone. Today auto thieves use sophisticated, high-tech tools and methods to steal vehicles, like reprogramming key fobs through the vehicle’s onboard diagnostic port. Located under the dash, they plug into the diagnostics port and download information that allows them to program a key fob, which is later used to start the vehicle.

Another method is a relay attack, where thieves approach a person’s door with an antenna-like device designed to sense the signal from a key fob, amplify it, and trick the car into believing the owner’s key is inside the vehicle so it can be started.

To reduce these types of attacks, Brampton’s mayor Patrick Brown proposed a pilot program that would see free Faraday bags, which block the radio frequency emanating from key fobs, given to residents in key areas of the city. However, even with measures like this, it’s clear that more still needs to be done by manufacturers to resolve the larger issue at hand. 

Top 10 Most Stolen Vehicles in Ontario

There are a few types of vehicles that are more likely to be stolen than others. According to the latest data from Équité Association, a not-for-profit association of insurance companies working to detect and prevent insurance fraud, the top 10 stolen vehicles in Ontario are as follows:

  1. Lexus RX-Series
  2. Honda CR-V
  3. Ford F150 Series
  4. Toyota Highlander
  5. Honda Civic
  6. Land Rover Range Rover Sport
  7. Honda Accord
  8. Chevrolet/ GMC Silverado/ Sierra 1500 Series
  9. RAM 1500 Series
  10. Toyota Tacoma

When a car is stolen it’s likely to end up in one of three places: a chop shop, shipping container, or used to commit other crimes.

First, chop shops. Often run by organized crime groups, these are places where stolen cars are disassembled for parts and then sold on the black market. Often times the parts are sold to unsuspecting buyers locally or in other parts of the country or overseas.

Your stolen vehicles may also end up in a shipping container. Shipping containers are used to smuggle stolen vehicles and parts across borders. In fact, you may even find parts from chop shops exported this way.

Stolen vehicles are also commonly used to commit other crimes. For perpetrators, an embezzled car is the perfect getaway vehicle. It’s not traceable back to the criminal and can be ditched at any point in time. Stolen vehicles are commonly used in crimes such as robberies, break-and-enters, drug dealing, or even drive-by shootings.

Now that you know a bit more about the subject, let’s take a look at several ways you can protect yourself and prevent car theft at home, work, and beyond.

How to Prevent Car Theft: 6 Tips 

How to prevent your car from being stolen? Well, one of the most common reasons for car theft is opportunity. If we can impede car thieves from stealing cars, even if it’s just a little, then we can hinder their ability to commit crimes and victimize others.

Here are 10 pro tips to get you started.

Lock doors, close windows, and keep keys with you 

It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many car thefts result from drivers leaving their doors unlocked and keys inside when they’re not around. Do yourself the favour of triple-checking to make sure all windows and doors are closed and locked. While you’re doing that, make sure you’ve also grabbed your keys. Even if you don’t plan on being long, it can take as little as two minutes to steal a vehicle. 

Always park in your garage and keep doors closed 

Another way to prevent car theft is to actively practice parking in your garage. After all, a thief can’t steal what they can’t see. If you don’t have a garage, park your vehicle in a well-lit, well-attended area and make sure it’s visible from the street.

Also, remember to keep garage doors closed and locked. Sure, it’ll take extra effort to open them every time you leave or come back home, but it ensures that nobody can sneak inside while you’re away from home (or even worse – while you are inside). 

Keep valuables out of sight

Never leave any items visible in your vehicle that may incentivize a thief to break in. This includes loose change, phone chargers, electronic devices, or anything else you consider valuable. If you absolutely must leave something in your car, make sure it’s locked up in the trunk or glove department so no one can see it.

What about vehicle registration? This is a topic of hot debate. For decades, keeping your vehicle registration and proof of insurance in your car was typical, but now some insurance companies have begun advising against it as a result of increases in identity theft. But if you still prefer to risk keeping these documents in your car, we highly advise you to use photocopies and keep them well hidden.

Make your vehicle harder to steal when it’s outdoors 

Unfortunately, parking in a garage isn’t always possible. In this case, it’s important to take measures to protect your vehicle and make it less attractive to thieves.

Here are some tips for making your car harder to steal:

  • When parking your vehicle, turn the wheels toward the curb. This makes it more difficult to tow away as the vehicle will have a harder time gaining traction on the pavement.
  • If you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, back into your spot. If you have a front-wheel drive vehicle, park facing forward. This makes it much harder for thieves to tow away your car from a spot.
  • Always set the emergency brake.
  • Never hide a spare key in your car or outside your residence. 

How to prevent car theft with keyless entry

Keyless entry is a convenient way to get into your car without having to spend minutes fumbling around for your keys. But it also leaves us vulnerable to a new string of auto theft methods. Prevent keyless car theft by keeping your fob in a signal-blocking pouch, like the Faraday. The pouch is designed to block electromagnetic signals, which eliminates the risk of relay theft. In addition, you should also avoid locking your vehicle while walking away. Doing so creates a range that leaves our fob’s signal vulnerable to being intercepted. 

Invest in the best car theft prevention devices 

Kill Switch 

Stay safe and maintain your peace of mind with a kill switch. The small device connects to one of your car’s starting parts – fuel pump, fuse box, ignition, battery, etc. – in order to “kill” the power to that part once it’s switched on.

If you have a kill switch, thieves will be less likely to try to break into your car, because they know it will be useless once they get inside. A kill switch also allows you to stop a thief from getting away with your vehicle if you see them trying to drive off with it.

Wireless Anti-theft Security Alarm 

Car thieves are opportunistic. They want to take your car and go, but they don’t want to risk getting caught by police or drawing attention to themselves. That’s why wireless anti-theft security alarms are great deterrents for car thieves. They’re discreet and don’t require any installation or maintenance on your part!

When a thief approaches your car, the alarm will sound from inside the vehicle and from a remote location, alerting you that someone has tampered with it. The alarm will also flash lights on the dashboard, so even if you’re not looking at your car when it starts beeping, you’ll know something is wrong.

Steering Wheel Lock 

If you’re looking to deter car thieves, a steering wheel lock is an absolute must. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and most importantly will help you sleep better at night knowing your car is more secure.

Made of metal and plastic, the rod-like device stretches across the car’s steering wheel and locks to prevent thieves from taking off with your vehicle. When used in combination with other security measures, this visual deterrent could prove effective in preventing car theft.

Anti-Theft GPS Tracker

Although this next device doesn’t exactly prevent car theft, it can play a vital role in helping you retrieve your vehicle in the event that the unfortunate happens. Just like any GPS tracker, with the appropriate app, a person can pull up their vehicle’s whereabouts at any point in time with incredible accuracy. If a vehicle is stolen, users can track down the vehicle with real-time information and provide updates to the authorities to assist in the vehicle’s recovery. 

In addition to the system, the National Insurance Crime Bureau recommends vehicle owners opt for theft-deterrent decals warning that their vehicle is equipped with GPS tracking in hopes of scaring away opportunistic thieves.

What to do if your car is stolen? 

If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having your car stolen, don’t panic. All is not lost. The first order of business is to call the police and file a report. They can help you get started on recovering your vehicle, and they’ll be able to provide information about what steps need to be taken next. Remember, the sooner they respond, the better chance they’ll have at catching whoever stole your car.

Once things are moving forward with the police, contact your insurance company. They’ll ask for a copy of the police report and may have some additional questions about what happened. You may also be asked to file a claim with them for reimbursement for any expenses or damages related to the theft.

How to Avoid Facing the Consequences of Car Theft With Acumen Insurance

Auto theft is rising at a staggering rate, and while there may be no way to avoid car theft completely, Acumen Insurance is here to help you protect yourself from the consequences of theft. In the event that your car is stolen, it may be covered depending on the specifics of your policy. In order to be covered against car theft you would need to have opted into one of the following:

Specified perils: Protects your car against loss or damage from specific hazards like hail, windstorms, fire, and theft.           

Comprehensive coverage: Provides coverage above but also includes vandalism and falling objects. Does not include collision coverage.

All perils: A combination of collision and comprehensive coverage.

Once you’ve confirmed your vehicle is covered for theft, you’ll want to contact your insurance provider to start a claim. And if you’re an Acumen Insurance customer, we’ve made it simple to proceed with the next steps, by providing the option to start your claim during and after business hours.

If you aren’t yet an Acumen Insurance customer and are interested in learning more about our different car insurance policies, we’d love to chat. We offer a range of packages that can help you get back on the road fast. Whether you’re looking for a comprehensive policy or something more basic, we can help you find the right fit for your needs. Contact us at either our Stoney Creek or Mississauga office today to get started.