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Tips for Preventing Car Theft in Canada

By RBC Insurance • Published January 22, 2024 • 4 Min Read

In 2022, the number of vehicle thefts in Ontario and Quebec went up by 50 per cent. Car owners in Alberta saw car thefts rise by almost 20 per cent, and drivers in the Atlantic provinces experienced a 34 per cent rise in thefts. The Canadian Finance & Leasing Association reports that a car is stolen every six minutes in Canada—and that the numbers are continuing to increase.

Also, recovery rates for stolen cars are going down. In 1990, 90 per cent of car owners who reported their vehicles stolen in Ontario had them recovered by police. That rate of recovery has fallen to approximately 50 per cent, in part because cars are being shipped outside of the country by organized crime rings.

Vehicle theft results in increased costs that affect us all. As car theft increases, so does the cost of car insurance—not just for those who’ve had their cars stolen but for all car owners. Car theft costs Canadians $1 billion each year in financial losses.

Key takeaways

  • Car theft rates have risen dramatically in recent years in Canada.

  • Cars with push-button starters and keyless entry are more susceptible to theft.

  • To keep your car safe at home, park in a garage or secure parking lot.

  • Devices like steering-wheel locks, anti-theft recovery systems, and on-board diagnostic (OBD) data-port blockers can help deter thieves and increase the chances that your car will be recovered.

Car theft prevention measures to take at home

Keeping a car secure while it’s parked at home is something that drivers often overlook. Here are some steps you can take to deter thieves from stealing your car out of your driveway.

Protect your key fob to prevent relay and reprogramming theft

Keyless-entry and push-start vehicles offer convenience for drivers while giving criminals additional options for stealing cars. Relay theft (also known as reprogramming theft) is when thieves use high-tech means to steal your vehicle. Your key fob is vulnerable to radio-frequency devices that can intercept the signal it emits and use that to enter your car. To keep this from happening, store your fob far away from the entrance of your home or keep it in a signal-shielding Faraday box or pouch. These are inexpensive and can be easily purchased online. 

Park in a garage or secure area

The best and safest place to park your car is in a garage or secure parking lot. If you don’t have access to one, there are still a few tactics you can use to make your car less likely to get stolen from your home.

  1. Never leave your car running,even if you’re just popping back into the house to retrieve a forgotten item. Turn off the engine and take your keys with you, leaving doors locked and windows closed.

  2. If you park on the street, turn your wheels in the direction of the curb. This will make it more difficult for your car to be illegally towed. For the same reason, back rear-wheel-drive cars into the driveway and park front-wheel-drive vehicles facing the top of the driveway.  

Lock vehicle doors and windows

Simple steps go a long way toward preventing car theft at home. Always lock your car, keep your windows rolled up, and store items that might further attract thieves out of view and locked inside the trunk.

More car theft prevention tips

You’ll never regret going the extra mile to protect your vehicle from theft. Here are a few items you can use to deter car theft.

Car anti-theft devices

Inexpensive steering-wheel locks act as a visual and physical deterrent that will stop some thieves from targeting your car.

OBD data-port blockers

A data-port blocker or lock prevents thieves from gaining access to your car’s on-board diagnostic (OBD) system, which is what they use to access and control a car’s internal computer, in turn, start the ignition. Check with your car manufacturer to make sure that installing this device does not invalidate your warranty, and do some careful product research before choosing a lock.  

What to do if your car is stolen

If your car is stolen, contact the police to file a report. Don’t try to retrieve it on your own, even if you have a tracking device installed. Provide police with all the data you have, including video-surveillance footage and GPS information. Be sure to keep copies for yourself of any documents you share with police. Ask the police for a copy of their report for your own files and insurance claim.

Next, contact your insurance company to learn how to file your claim. They’ll guide you through the process and let you know the exact information they need.

Do you want to learn more about car insurance and how to protect your car? Speak with an RBC Insurance Advisor by calling 1-877-749-7224 or get a quote online today.

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*Home and auto insurance products are distributed by RBC Insurance Agency Ltd. and underwritten by Aviva General Insurance Company. In Quebec, RBC Insurance Agency Ltd. Is registered as a damage insurance agency. As a result of government-run auto insurance plans, auto insurance is not available through RBC Insurance in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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