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Canada: the auto theft
capital of North America

xBy Jay Lerue

Believe it or not! Canada is the auto theft capital of North America! Does this surprise you, as much as it does me? I mean, we only have about 26 million people in all of Canada and there are some American cities alone with more people, right? Well, population and law of probability aside, it remains the truth.

Since 1996, Canada has reported more stolen cars than the rest of North America. Statistics Canada claims that a car is reported stolen in Canada every three minutes. Yikes! Cars in cities along the major waterways such as Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Vancouver are more likely to be stolen.

This is because more than 30 per cent of stolen cars in Canada are exported to other countries. The rest are given false identification numbers and resold to unsuspecting consumers or chopped up for parts.

But that’s not to say landlocked cities are immune. Over the past decade theft rates have tripled in Regina and more than quadrupled in Winnipeg. These facts all add up to one universal truth, dear reader. You have to do what you can to prevent your car from being the next target.

Here in Nova Scotia we tend to have a more laid back, easy going approach to a lot of things. In fact, the deeper you go into rural regions, the more you’ll see what I mean.

It’s not uncommon, for example, when driving through the Annapolis Valley, to see people leaving their keys in the ignition or even leaving the car running while they run into a roadside store, or gas bar for a few minutes. Doing this in an urban region does not make good sense, considering the number of stolen cars that are reported in Nova Scotia’s cities.

Some obvious things we can do to protect ourselves from car theft are as follows:

Never leave your vehicle unlocked. Car thieves who are on the prowl see a lock button in the “up” position as a potential bonanza. Don’t let them in as easily as they want to get in!

Don’t leave your keys in the vehicle. Once in, a thief has only seconds to figure out where you are storing your keys, if they are in the vehicle. Common areas include under the seat, in the dash, or under the sun visor. Not having the keys in the car will significantly reduce the likeliness of your car being stolen.

Turn off the engine when leaving the car, even if only for a minute or two. If your vacant car is running and someone who is predisposed to stealing a car sees this, you lose!

Conceal items in your trunk. Ever had your car broken into and stuff stolen? My wife and I have! Don’t leave “bait” out for thieves, who at the very least, will smash your windows out to get at whatever they can “grab and go” with, out of your vehicle.

But what about preventing car theft from our homes? Some of the things that can be done to prevent your car from being stolen or damaged from your property are as follows:

Install a motion sensing light on your home and have it positioned where you are going to park your car. Keeping your car in a guarded, well lit area will more than deter "would be thieves," as the risk of the thief being spotted (or identified) increases significantly, with bright illumination.

Ask your neighbours to watch out for your car(s) and do the same for them. There is strength in numbers and a “neighbourhood watch” of sorts makes good sense.

Install an anti theft device which will disable the vehicle, unless the proper key is used.  Automatic car starters for example, are often equipped with a feature that stalls the engine when the brake pedal is engaged. When the car owner enters the car and places the key in the ignition, this anti theft feature is offset and away he or she goes.

While some vehicles appear to be targeted more so than others, we have to do what we can to ultimately prevent thieves from making off with our vehicles, regardless of make and model. Having a car alarm installed will certainly pay off in the long run. If you cannot afford a car alarm, use an anti theft club on your steering wheel.

Let’s face it, the most savvy of thieves will always be able to bypass or get around just about any anti theft device or mechanism. There are some “specialists” who have no problem getting around these things.

But, at the end of the day, having and incorporating any such device(s) will at the very least, make any amateur “would be thief” think twice about trying to steal your vehicle. And while there are things like video games that glorify car theft and give it an Exciting, “fun” appeal, the fact remains that car theft is nothing to take lightly and is a major reason for some of the inflated auto insurance premiums we all must pay.

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