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Five Things car thieves don’t want you to know

Published December 13, 2013
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By Jess Davidson, Special to Wheels.ca

More than 80,000 cars are stolen across Canada each year, the majority of which will never be recovered. For victims of vehicle theft, the aftermath is an expensive, paperwork-heavy nightmare, and there are few things more violating than having your beloved car ride off into the sunset with someone else (or worse, taken apart piece by piece and sold for parts).

To help you avoid falling victim, we’ve compiled a list of five things car thieves would prefer you didn’t know:

1: Your model matters

Certain cars are particularly appealing to thieves. Specific brands, such as Toyota, are popular in overseas markets where stolen cars are often exported, according to Michael Lendick, national security director and law enforcement liaison, LoJack Canada. Other popular brands, such as Honda, tend to be targeted because their parts can be sold locally and quickly. Each year, the Insurance Bureau of Canada releases a list of the top 10 stolen cars , which can be viewed by clicking here.

2: Vehicle etching isn’t a deterrent

Vehicle etching (also known as VIN etching) is marketed as a countermeasure to vehicle theft. It is a technique that involves etching a vehicle’s VIN onto its windows and is meant to reduce the value of a stolen vehicle to thieves.

“In reality, all that window etching amounts to is some almost invisible scratches on your window that you get charged hundreds of dollars for,” Lendick explains.  “It all boils down to lots of money spent to have the etching done, but no real value to the consumer at all.”

According to Lendick, if your vehicle has been stolen, odds are it’s already inside a container and on its way for export, so markings of this kind do very little good.

3: Keys in the ignition? You’re too kind

This seems like an obvious tip, but up to 20 per cent of victims of car theft left the keys in the ignition while in a coffee shop or at an ATM, Lendick says. Even if you’ll just be away from the car for a few minutes, take your keys with you.

4: Practice preventive parking

In order to prevent thieves from towing your car, park with your wheels turned sharply and apply the emergency brake.  If you have a rear-wheel drive car, back into driveway, and if you have a front-wheel drive car, park front end first, Toronto Police advise. (IBC, Toronto Police)

5: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is

Car owners are not the only potential victims of theft; thieves prey on purchasers, too. For example, stolen cars may be given a fraudulent identification number and then sold to unsuspecting buyers who are defrauded of their money, according to the Toronto Police’s website. Beware of sellers trying to unload quickly.

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