The Basics of How to Prevent Auto Theft


Editor’s note: This article was originally published on June 13, 2013 and was updated on November 9, 2015.

No one wants to be the victim of auto theft. Insuring your vehicle against theft is step one, but there are also things you can do to deter car thieves from targeting your car.

Keep Your Car Visible

When it comes to protecting your car and the possessions within it, visibility is key. Ideally, you should tuck your car completely out of sight, like inside a locked garage. But if you do need to park out in the open, choose a well-lit space, and preferably one in a high-traffic area. The more people who have eyes on your vehicle, the less appealing it becomes to potential thieves.

If you have to keep valuables in your vehicle, stow them in the trunk, which is the hardest part of the car for thieves to access. When it comes to expensive electronics, like computers or cellphones, your safest bet is to take them with you when you leave the car. Even hidden in the trunk, thieves can use sensors to detect them, and the promise of a high-yield payday will give them incentive to break into your vehicle.

When it comes to protecting your car and the possessions within it, visibility is key.

Know Your Risks When Buying a Vehicle

You may think flashy sports cars and luxury town cars would be most at risk of theft, but in fact, seven of the top ten most stolen vehicles in 2012 were four-wheel or all-wheel-drive, including four separate models of the Ford F350 truck, reports the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Rugged vehicles are attractive to overseas markets in Africa, the Middle East and Western Europe, so they have become a target for organized crime. But buyers need to beware as well; Alberta is proving a hot market for these stolen trucks, which are taken from Eastern provinces, given new VINs and resold to unsuspecting Albertans.

Theft Deterrents

Older vehicles are usually at a higher risk of being stolen because they lack security features that come standard in more recent models, says the ICBC. For instance, most consumer vehicles built after 2007 include anti-theft engine immobilizers, which earlier models lack.

You can, of course, add security features to your car, like immobilizers, alarms and other theft deterrents. Of these, electronic engine immobilizers offer the best protection, according to the ICBC. These prevent the engine from starting without the microchipped factory key. On the other hand, mechanical immobilizers, like steering wheel locks, are a reasonable visual deterrent but shouldn’t be solely relied upon. And then there is the classic car alarm, designed to draw attention to potential car thieves. Unfortunately, a high rate of false alarms cause most people to view these as nothing more than an annoyance, rendering them largely ineffective.

You can never completely protect yourself from auto theft, which is where insurance comes in!

However with a bit of prevention on your part, you can drastically reduce your risk of becoming a victim of this widespread crime. Often, protecting your vehicle means following some common sense measures: parking your car in plain sight, taking electronics and other valuables with you, and not hiding spare keys in your car.

Other deterrents, like anti-theft devices, can require you to shell out a bit of cash upfront, but could help you qualify for insurance discounts. If you need auto insurance or would like to find out how much you can save on your auto insurance with another company, contact us today and talk to one of our helpful representatives.

President of First Foundation Residential Mortgages and First Foundation Insurance. Live in Edmonton but cheer for the Riders. I have lots of kids. Follow me on Twitter @gordmccallum

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