Choosing a car at dealership. Thoughtful grey hair man in formalwear leaning at the car and looking away
Your hot little older model Honda Civic SiR or super duty F-Series Ford pickup is prized above all others by Canadian car thieves.
But in the bustling province of opportunity — Ontario — four-wheel drive Cadillac Escalades top the hot wheels roster (see the full list at the bottom of this article).
The Insurance Bureau of Canada’s top 10 most stolen auto figures show the 2000 and 1999 SiRs hold the top two spots respectively with four model years of the four-wheel drive Ford F-350 taking four top spots in the recently compiled list for 2011.
All 10 vehicles on the national list are models built before 2008 when electronic anti-theft demobilizers became mandatory on new vehicles manufactured in Canada, while the Ontario list contains three older model SUVs with factory installed anti-theft technology.
The reason the two Hondas and the Ford trucks are the hottest on the list is because they are the most sought used autos both by consumers and as a source of parts for chop shop bandits.
The Civic replaces the 2009 Toyota Venza 4-door, last year’s most frequently stolen vehicle nationally but it still ranks second on Quebec’s top hot car list.
So why are the 2005 and 2002 Cadillac Escalades in Ontario’s top two spots and the 2004 and 2003 models also on the list of 10?
“It’s showing the trend of the four-wheel drive’s popularity. It is a luxury high-end vehicle, there are a lot on the roads in Ontario and many are stolen specifically for parts,” said Rick Dubin, the IBC’s vice-president of investigative services.
While many high-end luxury cars and SUVs are stolen for global shipment to West Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe the Ford pickup trucks have become very desirable for illegal sale in Canada with Alberta, the province leading the way as the country’s new hot spot for hot F-Series pickups.
And surprisingly, stolen Escalades are also rarely found when authorities seize fleets of heisted SUVs and luxury wheels bound for distant ports of call because they are in high demand here.
“Investigations indicate that many Ford trucks are being re-VINed (altering the vehicle identification number) to be sold to unsuspecting victims in Western Canada,” said Dubin.
“Professional criminals have gotten extremely good at modifying vehicle identification numbers and you’ve got to be an expert to determine that the VIN number has been tampered with. For consumers buying used vehicles we highly recommend you purchase through a registered dealer because you are protected.
“Secondly we recommend you run a full car history with the VIN number and other information about the vehicle. Have it inspected by a trusted mechanic because they are aware of things like flood damage and they’re also aware of the locations of a vehicle’s true VIN number, so they might be able to notice something fishy,” he added.
There is more than one place were the VIN can be found on vehicles but some of those locations are only known by automotive experts, theft investigators, and some professional car thieves.
IBC figures show 82,411 vehicles were stolen in Canada in 2011, which is actually down by 12 per cent from the previous year, largely due to immobilizer technology, which is also part of the reason why thefts are down by nine per cent in Ontario.
While 20,768 vehicles were stolen in Ontario, accounting for $93 million in lost revenue, Quebec leads the way with 22,397 cars and trucks stolen last year. La Belle Province ranks highest in vehicle thefts because it has the country’s largest shipping port in Montreal and also due to its proximity to the port of Halifax to the east.
Alberta ranks third with 13,461 and British Columbia follows closely with 13,186 stolen autos. B.C. also has Canada’s third largest shipping port.
“Police in Alberta will also tell you the Ford Series trucks are the most stolen vehicle in the province,” Dubin pointed out, explaining why the pickups hold four positions on the national top 10 list.
“In Alberta our analysis shows that out of the top 10 most stolen the Ford 250s and 350s take up eight out of the 10 top positions and we’re not seeing those being seized at the ports in Montreal or Halifax,” he added as an example of how widely prized the F-Series are within the Canadian used auto market.
Among the higher-end vehicles stolen across the country that have been seized at Canadian sea ports by border and police investigators are older and newer models of the Toyota Highlander and Venza, BMW X6, Honda CRV, Lexus RX350, as well as 2012 Range Rovers and Jeep Grand Cherokees — some with their original set of keys.
Remarkably, about 20 per cent of all stolen vehicles come with the original set of keys because so many people still leave their car running when stopping to grab a coffee or to warm it up on winter mornings. A thief with a “slim jim” lock out tool can be in a locked car in a few seconds and gone in less when it’s running.
The 10 most frequently stolen vehicles in Canada are:
1. 2000 HONDA CIVIC SiR 2DR
2. 1999 HONDA CIVIC SiR 2DR
3. 2006 CHEVROLET TRAILBLAZER SS 4DR 4WD
4. 2007 FORD F350 SD 4WD PU
5. 2005 CADILLAC ESCALADE 4DR AWD
6. 2006 FORD F350 SD 4WD PU
7. 2002 CADILLAC ESCALADE 4DR 4WD
8. 2005 FORD F350 SD 4WD PU
9. 2004 FORD F350 SD 4WD PU
10.1999 ACURA INTEGRA 2DR
The 10 most frequently stolen vehicles in Ontario are:
1. 2005 CADILLAC ESCALADE 4 DR 4WD
2. 2002 CADILLAC ESCALADE 4 DR 4WD
3. 2000 HONDA CIVIC SiR 2 DR
4. 2004 CADILLAC ESCALADE 4DR 4WD
5. 1999 HONDA CIVIC SiR 2DR
6. 2003 CADILLAC ESCALADE 4DR 4WD
7. 2003 ACURA RSX TYPE S 2DR
8. 2002 ACURA RSX TYPE S 2DR
9. 2004 HUMMER H2 4DR AWD
10. 2010 ACURA MDX 4D 4WD
Unlike the rest of the vehicles on the list the Acuras came with demobilizers prior to 2008 yet they were stolen despite the anti-theft technology as many thieves simply tow vehicles away or count on owners to leave them unattended and running as mentioned above.
As for preventing car theft, the IBC says drivers should do the following:
Never leave your vehicle running unattended.
Park in well-lit areas.
Always roll up your car windows, lock the doors, pocket and protect your keys.
Never leave valuables or packages in full view. Put them in the trunk.
Park your car in the garage at night.