Your car is valuable, making it a prime target for vandalism and theft. In 2020, the top stolen cars in Ontario were the Lexus RX, Honda CR-V, Toyota Highlander, and Honda Accord, so if you own one of those vehicles you should take extra care to deter thieves.1 Criminals steal or damage vehicles for a variety of reasons: to get access to valuables inside the car, to sell, to get somewhere or to commit another crime. The costs of these crimes add up — in Canada, auto theft costs Canadians close to a billion dollars a year.2
Here are a few tips on how you can make your car less of a target.
1. Park your car in a secure location
The best place to park your car is inside your garage with the garage door closed and locked. If you don’t have a garage, park in a well-lit area. If you’re parking outdoors on your own property, install a bright motion sensor light to deter thieves.
You can also make it harder for thieves to tow your vehicle by using a parking brake and parking strategically. Park a front-wheel drive vehicle front first and a rear-wheel drive vehicle back first in your driveway.
2. Don’t give thieves access to your keys
Always keep control of your keys. Never put your address and name on your keys – if obtained by a thief, they could use that information to find your house and steal your car.
You should also never warm up your car by leaving it running in your driveway unattended. Modern cars need less than 30 seconds to warm up even in cold weather, and your car’s heater won’t warm up significantly until you start driving. The best way to warm up your car is simply to drive it!
If you have a key fob, be careful of how and where you store it. Thieves have been able to use an electronic relay transmitter to amplify the fob’s signal and get access to a car. Keep your key in a metal container or a key fob blocker pouch and store it away from windows and doors.
3. Keep your car tidy
A thief is more likely to break into your car if they see something of value that they can steal. Keep your valuables out of sight or store valuables in your home when possible.
4. Implement a security or tracking system
There are many different security systems available, such as after-market car alarms, wheel-locks and brake locks that will make it more difficult to steal your car. Even installing a small blinking red light on your dashboard can trick a thief into thinking you have an alarm and they will move on to avoid trouble.
There are also GPS tracking tags or devices you can install in your car so that if it’s stolen, you can track your car on your smart phone and provide the location of your car to the police. Never pursue a stolen car on your own though – leave the apprehension to professionals!
Some insurers offer a discount for non-factory installed alarms or ignition or fuel disabling devices. If you’re adding an anti-theft feature, call your insurance broker to find out what discounts are available.
If your car is vandalized or stolen, first take photos of any evidence or damage, gather any available security footage and ask neighbours if they saw or heard anything. Then report the crime to the police and ask for a crime reference number, as your insurer may request it.
If you have comprehensive car insurance, it typically covers damage due to vandalism or replacement due to theft. Check your own policy documents to confirm what is covered by your insurer.
To get a quote for car insurance, call an OTIP broker today at 1-866-561-5559. If you have questions about your car insurance policy and its coverage for theft and vandalism, please call 1-800-267-6847.
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2. Insurance Bureau of Canada