The top-selling vehicle in Canada is a Ford F-Seriespickup. The most stolen vehicle in Canada is a Ford F-Series pickup. I’m sure there is one of those annoying causation versus correlation arguments buried in there, but those discussions chase their own tail and I can never figure them out so I won’t bother.
According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), in 2015 car thieves liked big pickups; overall, the 2005 Ford F350 SD 4WD took top spot; the only non-pickup in the top 10 is at number four, the 2006Cadillac Escalade. What do they all have in common? Ranging in model years from 2001 to 2007, none have a manufacturer-installed electronic immobilizer; they’re easier to pluck. Auto theft is driven by many things, but it’s hard to argue “ease of use” wouldn’t be one of them.
There are patterns that emerge; the list for Ontario looks vastly different, with far more high-end later-model cars. It is those patterns that prompt investigators to ask how much of the change in theft is attributable to opportunity, and how much is now driven by organized crime.
“Since immobilizer technology was mandated in 2007, theft rates have fallen,” explains Garry Robertson, national director of investigative services for IBC. “Where we once saw perhaps 150,000 vehicles being stolen annually, that has dropped to the 74-75,000 range. What is causing alarm is that now many of those vehicles are never recovered.” It’s an issue the insurance industry takes very seriously. You may think your insurance rates should fall in accordance with a huge dip in the number of vehicles stolen, but with an increase in the value of many of those on the more recent lists and a lesser rate of recovery, don’t be looking for falling theft rates to impact your rates significantly.
The Insurance Bureau points out cars are stolen for four main reasons: high-demand cars to be sold overseas, cars to be turned around to consumers unwittingly buying a stolen car, someone “borrowing” your car to get from A to B one night, or to be used in committing another crime. Theft deterrent systems have made stealing a car tougher for thieves, and regulators have made it easier to find a vehicle’s history, but owners themselves do some pretty stupid things. The IBC estimates 60 per cent of vehicles are stolen with the keys in them. Thieves like vehicles with keys in them; it makes them worth more and nothing says “stolen” like “you have to use a screwdriver to start it.”
Robertson points out that, if I were a car thief, I could sit across from any gas station and within minutes have a car. “People go in to pay and leave the key in the car; they leave it running while they grab a coffee, or in their driveway in the morning. It only takes a few seconds and it’s gone.”
Car theft is a national issue, and there are no boundaries and no borders. “We have cars stolen in one part of Canada and resold in another, oftentimes with American interests taking advantage of a weak dollar to profit,” says Robertson. In other words, that car advertised on Kijiji might seem like it comes from just around the corner; it could actually have come from anywhere. “After the flooding in High River, Alberta, in 2013, we assembled a database on our website of cars deemed salvage. Those cars were showing up in British Columbia, sold through Kijiji. People were checking on that database, which was similar to one implemented by the U.S. after [Hurricane] Katrina, and finding their recently purchased cars.”
I do work with the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) and the Automobile Protection Association (APA). Both organizations protect consumers, and both stress the importance of using tools at your disposal before your purchase instead of after. Is the price too good to be true? Walk away. Look for certified used sellers. Have a licensed mechanic check the car before you buy it. Protect yourself.
Car insurance companies have their own protocols regarding theft. Investigators will be determining if your vehicle is a “world car”, one in high demand in places such as West Africa, where Toyotas are highly coveted. According to Pete Karageorgos, director of consumer relations for IBC, some companies will wait 30 days to pay out a stolen claim. “It’s possible the customer settles prior to 30 days; in that case, whenever and if the car is recovered it is the insurer’s property and they dispose of it,” he says.
Want to lessen the risk of having your ride stolen? Here are just a few common sense tips:
- If you have a garage, use it. Seems basic, but many of us don’t do it.
- Never leave your car running. Never leave a key fob in it when you go to pay for gas.
- Don’t keep your keys by the front door. Vehicles are stolen from driveways – with the key – because it’s so easy to guess owner’s habits.
- Don’t park in dark corners of lots. Thieves work quickly – under a minute in many cases – and being able to do it in privacy helps them, not you.
- Don’t keep your original registration in the glove box. A true copy (both sides) is valid for police, and the original makes it far easier for thieves to turn your car over to a buyer.
In the end, your new(ish) car has sophisticated anti-theft protection, but your key is literally the key to overriding them all. Don’t make it easy for thieves.
2015 Top Stolen Vehicles in Canada
1. 2005 Ford F-350
2. 2006 Ford F-350
3. 2007 Ford F-350
4. 2006 Cadillac Escalade
5. 2003 Ford F-350
6. 2006 Ford F-250
7. 2001 Ford F-350
8. 2004 Ford F-250
9. 2007 Ford F-250
10. 2001 Ford F-250
2015 Top Stolen Vehicles in Ontario
1. 2003 Cadillac Escalade
2. 2010 Acura ZDX
3. 2009 BMW X6
4. 2013 Acura MDX
5. 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche
6. 2013 Toyota Highlander
7. 2005 Hummer H2
8. 2014 Toyota Venza
9. 2011 BMW X6
10. 2004 Chevrolet Avalanche
To see where your vehicle falls, go to the ICB site and plug in your province.
Courtesy of Driving.ca by Lorraine Sommerfeld