The cost of auto-theft claims now runs about $600 million a year, bumping up the price of each auto insurance policy by about $40. With close to 160,000 vehicles stolen in Canada every year, that’s almost one set of wheels scooped up every three minutes.
Even a nondescript family sedan or a well-aged rusting set of wheels that neighbours secretly snicker at isn’t safe from thieves. Crooks prowling for getaway cars favour convenience over style. An easy target is attractive, no matter what it looks like. But anti-theft devices, and some common sense, can save you from losing your vehicle.
Shopping for a theft-resistant car is quite simple. In 1998, the auto insurance industry came up with a certification standard for anti-theft devices. About 60 per cent of new cars come with theft-deterrent immobilizers approved by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). These cars require a specially coded key or key fob to start, preventing thieves from hot-wiring them. This usually qualifies you for a lower insurance rate. The IBC website lists autos equipped with approved immobilizers.
If you own an older car, you can invest $200 to $400 (including installation) in an IBC-approved theft-deterrent immobilizer. Again, visit the Vehicle Information Centre section of the IBC website for sellers.
On a tight budget? Here are some no-cost measures to combat auto theft:
Definitely the more careless gaffe that motorists continually pull is leaving their cars running when they duck into homes, convenience stores or banks—only for a minute, of course. Even cars equipped with theft-deterrent systems have been snatched this way. “Vehicles are a lot harder to steal now than they were in the past,” notes Costa Kaskavaltzis, IBC’s manager of automotive engineering and vehicle services, “but human behaviour is still the missing factor.”
Some anti-theft devices are more effective than others.
·Immobilizers are your best bet. They prevent a vehicle from being driven without a key or key fob.
·Steering-wheel locks will deter joyriders, but determined thieves can cut through the steering wheels and remove the lock.
·Tracking systems are a great recovery aid, but only work after a carâs been stolen. A thief may be scared off by the warning stickers on the window, but if he plans to dump the car quickly, he will not be deterred.
·Alarms are effective but only if there is a backup system such as an immobilizer. Otherwise alarms are noisemakers that people rarely pay attention to.