How to keep your car from being stolen

The easiest vehicles to steal are those with their keys left in them

Published: December 2, 2015, 6:45 AM
Updated: October 11, 2021, 10:05 AM

Car theft in progress

Don't want your car to be stolen? Don't leave the keys in it!

Absurd as it may sound, approximately 60% of the stolen vehicles seized by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) at export ports had the keys in them.

"A vehicle left running unattended is not only easy to steal, it has increased value as a stolen vehicle," said Rick Dubin, vice-president, Investigative Services, at IBC. "The crooks are targeting vehicles with keys in them because they are of greater value."

Key in ignition

So, "don't leave your vehicle running unattended in your driveway or at your favourite coffee shop," he warns.

High-end, late-model vehicles are the most desirable targets for criminals but ease of theft is the primary factor that determines which cars and trucks are stolen.

While the easiest vehicles to steal are those with their keys in them, even without the keys it takes less than a minute for a car thief to steal your vehicle. To help protect your car from theft, Dubin advises:

  • Never leave your vehicle running when unattended.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • When parking your car, always close the windows, lock the doors, and pocket and protect your keys.
  • Put your valuables and packages in the trunk, where they're out of sight.
  • Keep your car in the garage at night.
  • Don't leave personal information in the glove box. Take your insurance and ownership documents with you when you park your vehicle.

Car thieves not only steal your vehicle and the valuables in it, they may steal your identity through your ownership and insurance documents. In 2014, there were 12,729 cases of identity theft in Canada, an increase of 8%.

Thieves may also alter or remove the vehicle identification number (VIN) on a vehicle in an attempt to sell a stolen vehicle to unsuspecting consumers.

If you are buying a used vehicle, be aware that it may be a stolen vehicle that has a fraudulent or tampered-with VIN. Consumers can obtain a vehicle history reportt through services such as CarProof or CARFAX to verify that it is not stolen.

According to the IBC, 73,964 vehicles were stolen in Canada last year, a 1% increase from the year before. The greatest increase came in British Columbia, where the number of thefts was up by 29%, but they occurred all across the country.