Every December since 2003, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) publishes its annual list of the top 10 most stolen cars in Canada. New technology and the recent pandemic make theft of your vehicle easier than ever — it can take car thieves as little as 30 seconds! But how do you protect your car while you are asleep or at work? In this article, we look at why certain vehicles are targets, how to protect your vehicle, as well as list the top 10 most stolen cars in Canada over the past year.

Why does a criminal target a vehicle?    

The idea that car theft is spontaneous couldn’t be further from the truth. Car thieves do not steal vehicles at random; they are usually highly organized and in many cases, have links to organized crime. When determining insurance premiums, how often your make and model are stolen is one of the factors insurers consider. In addition, research has found that thieves try to steal your vehicle for one of five reasons:

1. To sell vehicles abroad

Packing and shipping stolen vehicles almost immediately after they are taken is quite common. Oftentimes, their Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) are still intact. These stolen vehicles sell for many times their original market value. An article from RATES.CA states “In 2022, there were more than 8,000 reported vehicle thefts in Toronto, Ontario alone, up from 5,600 in 2021” and will most likely be sent overseas. Destination ports typically include countries within West Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean.

Did you know that cars stolen from Ontario and Quebec are openly being advertised and sold in Nigeria and Ghana? According to a Toronto Sun article, “Stolen Ontario vehicles may have gone to Ghana but can be found online in 60 seconds.”

2. To sell to unsuspecting consumers locally

Unlike those shipped overseas, some stolen vehicles are kept in Ontario. Thieves give these vehicles a false VIN and then sell them to unsuspecting consumers here in Ontario. Some thieves are smart enough to fool you into believing you are legitimately purchasing a vehicle.

3. To be sold for parts

“Chopping” or dismantling vehicles for parts is a common practice for converting your car into cash. Unsuspecting and duplicitous garages frequently buy stolen car parts to complete repairs without you knowing! As emerging technology has made it easier to steal vehicles, the pandemic-driven shortage of semiconductor chips needed for new cars has intensified the demand.

4. To get somewhere

Also referred to as “joyriding”. Your car might be taken for no more than a night’s entertainment. While you may count yourself as lucky when considering cars are usually abandoned and returned, innocent people may still get hurt as a result. Car theft of any kind is still a crime!

5. To commit another crime

Thieves are frequently in need of vehicles to help them commit other crimes—usually robberies. However, even if your car is returned, it is typically greatly damaged and returned within 48 hours of the theft.

SUV’s among the most desirable vehicles

According to HelloSafe.ca, the top three most stolen cars in Ontario are the 2018 Lexus RX, the 2019 Honda CR-V, and the 2019 Honda Civic. In addition to their high-end price tag, most of the cars on their list are targets because of their push-button ignition systems.  If you own a high-end car, your vehicle will likely be a target. However, so are less expensive yet reliable vehicles, like Honda CR-Vs and Civics. This data is based on car theft claims made by car insurance companies. With the emerging popularity of SUVs (sport utility vehicles), it’s unsurprising to find SUVs at the top of the list of most stolen cars in Canada for 2021.

Here are the top ten stolen vehicles (to date):

  1. 2016-2021 Honda CR-V
  2. 2016-2021 Lexus RX Series
  3. 2015-2020 Ford F-150 Series
  4. 2016-2021 Honda Civic
  5. 2013-2019 Toyota Highlander
  6. 2011-2018 RAM 1500 Series
  7. 1999-2006 Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/Sierra 
  8. 2018-2021 Honda Accord
  9. 2011-2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee
  10. 2013-2018 Toyota RAV4

Car theft costs everyone

Approximately 80,000 vehicles were stolen in the past year. This is a one percent increase from 2020. However, automobile theft is much more than an insurance problem. Its reach is beyond merely inconveniencing drivers. According to government-approved estimates, auto insurance fraud – including theft – costs Ontarians up to $1.6 billion yearly.

These costs include:

  • Fixing or replacing stolen vehicles
  • Increases in health care and treatment costs, and
  • Investigative and judicial costs linked to detecting and penalizing fraudsters and thieves

Tips to avoid car theft

As a car owner, make yourself aware of a few preventative steps that can protect your vehicle. These include:

  • Ensure that you lock any valuables out of sight
  • Completely close all windows and doors
  • Turn your wheels to the side to make your vehicle harder to tow
  • Park in a well-lit, secure area (if possible)
  • When at home, utilize a parking garage (in a building) or your garage
  • Don’t leave ownership or insurance cards in the vehicle when not in use
  • Back into your driveway if you have a rear-wheel-drive car or park front-end first if you have a front-wheel-drive car
  • Use steering wheel locks, data port locks, and either a Faraday box, metal box or pouch, for keys to protect against a relay attack
  • Block vehicles with less-desirable cars
  • Look into aftermarket solutions

Manufacturers explore implementing stronger security measures, including biometrics or two-factor authentication. Experts suggest using layered security measures as the best way to protect your vehicle. If you have questions about your insurance coverage or have to make a stolen car claim, contact an isure representative today.

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