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Car Theft Prevention in Canada

Thursday, 30 May 2024

There is no denying that car theft is a major issue in Canada. While most of us don’t think we’ll ever fall victim to this crime, the rate at which stolen cars in Canada are reported is staggering. In fact, car theft in Canada is so rampant that we rank in the world’s top 10 countries for stolen vehicles in 2024. With the Canadian federal government recently announcing plans to combat car theft, there is hope that this unfortunate dilemma will see a dramatic shift for the better. In this guide, we’ll explore the details of the Canadian government’s plans and provide you with some additional car theft prevention tips so you can ensure your prized possession is protected.


How the Federal Government plans to fight car theft in Canada

In a recent announcement, the Government of Canada unveiled its National Action Plan on Combatting Auto Theft. This plan targets the disruption, dismantling, and prosecution of organized crime groups responsible for auto theft. It outlines actions by the federal government in partnership with provincial and territorial governments, aligning with their respective roles and priorities.

This includes amending the Criminal Code to impose tougher penalties for auto theft linked to violence, organized crime, and money laundering, and introducing new offences for possessing and distributing theft devices. Additionally, a new aggravating factor will be applied to criminals who involve a minor in committing car theft - leading to harsher prison sentences. The National Action Plan also references the need to update the Radiocommunication Act to regulate the sale, distribution, and importation of radio devices used by car thieves and revise Transport Canada’s Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations to incorporate new theft-prevention technologies.

Moreover, the government will enhance intelligence and information sharing among all levels of policing, international law enforcement, and customs officials to support investigations and prosecutions. A National Intergovernmental Working Group on Auto Theft will be established to coordinate actions and monitor progress. This will enable the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to act on referrals and conduct intelligence-based searches. Furthermore, implementing new targeting tools will increase the CBSA's capacity to inspect shipping containers to intercept stolen vehicles before they leave the country. 


How to prevent car theft in Canada: Steps you can take to deter car thieves

While the changes from the government will help in auto theft prevention, there are several proactive steps you can start taking to keep your car safe. Here are some simple and effective strategies to consider.

Practice safe parking

Whenever possible, park your car inside your garage. This provides an additional layer of protection against theft compared to parking outside. If your home has a detached garage, make sure to lock it securely at night to prevent unauthorized access. A locked garage will deter car thieves and protect your vehicle from weather and vandalism. If you do not have a garage, park in a well-lit area and preferably close to any surveillance cameras in view of your vehicle, if possible. Thieves will be less likely to try to steal your car if they know they are being watched. 
Also, never leave your car running or your keys in the car, even if you are stepping away for just a moment. Thieves often look for quick opportunities, and an unattended car with keys inside is an easy target. Always lock your car, close your windows, and take your keys with you, even if you're just running a quick errand or stopping briefly. If you need to leave valuables or personal belongings in your car, ensure they are out of sight or tucked away in your trunk.

Car theft prevention for keyless entry vehicles

Keyless entry vehicles do not need a button pushed to unlock the vehicle. When the car does not detect the key, it will automatically lock. While they provide an element of convenience, they are also at risk of being stolen by a ‘relay attack’. This is when two or more criminals work together and use electronic devices to steal the vehicle right out of your driveway. 
This involves one person standing close to your home with a device that can pick up the signal from your key fob in your home. This signal is then sent to a second box beside your vehicle with another person, allowing the vehicle to pick up this signal and unlock the door. If you own a keyless entry vehicle, keep your keys away from doors and windows, preferably in a bedroom or drawer. Signals from these electronic devices cannot go through metal, so storing your keys in a metal container is also an effective way to protect your vehicle.

Invest in an anti-theft device for your car

Car theft prevention devices are a great way to ensure thieves don’t go anywhere near your vehicle. If your car does not have a built-in alarm system, have one installed. Car alarms emit a loud noise when someone attempts to break into the vehicle, drawing attention and often scaring off the would-be thief. In addition to deterring theft, the sound of an alarm can alert you and others in the vicinity to a potential security breach, allowing for a quicker response. 

If you want something a little more physical, a steering wheel lock is also a great option to consider. As the name suggests, these devices attach to your steering wheel and lock it in place. They are easy to install and will prevent someone from driving away with your car. Installing an immobilizer is also a good option as it prevents your car from being started without the correct key - making it significantly more difficult for thieves to drive away with your vehicle.

Equip your vehicle with a GPS tracking device

While it might not help prevent theft, a GPS tracker for your car in your car can come in handy when trying to locate the vehicle after it has been stolen. This invaluable technology allows you and law enforcement to pinpoint the car’s exact location, increasing the chances of a quick recovery. Many modern tracking devices also offer additional features, such as real-time alerts and geofencing, which can notify you if your car leaves a designated area.


How auto insurance can help with car theft

When it comes to insurance, auto theft protection depends on your policy. Typically, this protection is included in comprehensive, specified perils, or all perils coverage.

Comprehensive Coverage: This covers theft and other uncontrollable events like weather damage, animal encounters, and vandalism. However, it does not cover collisions or theft by someone living in your household.

Specified Perils Coverage: Similar to comprehensive coverage, specified perils coverage protects against events listed in your policy, including theft. However, it excludes damage from falling objects and vandalism. Coverage details can vary by provider, so review your policy carefully.

All Perils Coverage: This broad coverage combines collision and comprehensive protection, including theft by someone living in your household. It offers extensive car insurance theft coverage and protects against a wide range of risks.


Learn more about protecting yourself from car theft in Canada

As you can see, there are great options to consider when fighting car theft. From exploring preventative measures to purchasing the proper auto insurance policy, various resources are available to keep you and your vehicle safe. To learn more about the role of insurance, our blog here has everything you need to know. You can also contact a BIG broker directly to make sure you have the right coverage on your policy.

By: Devon Gribble