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.  In fact, 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 is stolen is one of the factors insurers consider. In addition, research by the IBC 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. often times their vehicle identification numbers (VINs) are still intact. These stolen vehicles sell for many times their original market value. Police in Peel Region say that 80 to 85 percent of stolen vehicles are in connection to organized crime and will most likely be sent overseas. Destination ports typically include countries within West Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. According to Interpol, “For organized criminal groups, the acquisition, shipment, and trade of stolen vehicles is a low-risk way to make profits. Stolen vehicles are frequently trafficked in order to finance and carry out other criminal activities, ranging from drug trafficking, arms dealing, people smuggling and international terrorism.”

Did you know that cars stolen from Ontario and Quebec are openly being advertised and sold in Nigeria and Ghana? According to a Marketplace investigation for CBC.ca, stolen vehicles are being brazenly sent overseas by thieves that leave behind identifiable bumper stickers and even licence plates!

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 to unsuspecting consumers here in Ontario. In fact, 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 thefts claims made by car insurance companies. With the emerging popularity of SUVs (sport utility vehicles), it’s not surprising to find SUVs at the top of list for most stolen cars in Canada for 2021.

Here are the top ten stolen vehicles:

  1. Lexus RX, 2018, SUV
  2. Honda CR-V, 2019, SUV
  3. Honda Civic, 2019, Sedan
  4. Toyota Highlander, 2019, SUV
  5. Chevrolet/GMC, Silverado/Sierra 1500, 2500, 3500 2017, Truck
  6. Ford, F-150, F-250, F-350, F-450, 2017, Truck
  7. Dodge Ram 1500, 2500, 3500, 2019, Truck
  8. Honda Accord, 2018, Sedan
  9. Toyota Corolla, 2017, Sedan
  10. Land Rover, Range Rover, 2016, SUV

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. It’s 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 in with less-desirable cars
  • Look into aftermarket solutions

While manufacturers explore implementing stronger security measures, including biometrics or two-factor authentication, experts suggest using layered security measures can be 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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