Automotive Theft Affects Us All
With common sense and vigilance, consumers can minimize the risk of having their vehicles stolen.
Since I began working in the retail automobile industry, I have seen an unfortunate industry trend that shows no signs of going away.
I am talking about automotive theft and its impact on car owners, new car dealerships and the insurance industry.
It is a well-known fact that auto theft is industry-wide, represents big business and is on the rise. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, auto theft costs Canadians close to $1 billion each year and, on average, a car is stolen every seven minutes.
New-car dealerships are a constant target for thieves and are constantly trying to minimize the risk of having vehicles stolen.
However, despite the investment in advanced high-tech equipment, including fingerprint car-key security systems, security fencing and gates, enhanced lighting systems and 24-7-365 video monitoring surveillance systems, dealers are still targeted by car thieves on a regular basis.
In addition to high-tech equipment and internal procedures, dealerships work closely with their staff, the local police and private security companies to protect their premises and property against theft and vandalism.
Many dealers offer a theft-deterrent program known as window or body etching, in which the etched components are traceable. Some of these programs cover your deductible (if you have one) and incidental costs of up to $1,000.
Also, if your vehicle is not recovered, you would receive an additional amount over and above what your insurance company pays (up to $5,000).
It is not in any dealership’s best interests to disclose all of the security measure in place to deter auto theft, or to reveal the potential vulnerabilities at their facilities.
Customers, suppliers or visitors to a dealership should know that safeguards are in place to protect our property, and any property entrusted to our care (i.e., customers’ vehicles).
One of the ways thieves are stealing cars is using a method known as “relay theft.” Key fobs broadcast a constant, low power signal, which thieves are able to amplify if they get close enough to the key fob.
That happens when people leave their key fobs close to the front door of their home and their car is parked in the driveway. Thieves use one device to amplify the key fob signal, and another device near the vehicle to receive the signal and open the car.
Auto manufacturers are trying to address key fob issues. Meanwhile, car owners should not keep their keys near their front door; rather, leave them in a bedroom or somewhere far away in the house so there is less likelihood of the fobs being hacked.
From a consumer perspective, what can car owners do to reduce or minimize the risk of becoming another auto theft statistic in Canada? There are plenty of actions that can deter auto theft, many of which could be categorized as common sense:
• If possible, park your vehicle within a locked/secure garage
• If a garage is not accessible, park another vehicle in front of it
• When not in use, place the vehicle key fob inside a faraday bag/pouch
• Use other devices to deter thefts (e.g. steering-wheel locking devices)
• Ensure your unattended vehicle is locked and secure
• Never leave spare keys in your vehicle
• Never leave spare keys outside of your residence
• If you need to leave personal property or valuables in a vehicle, place them in the trunk before arriving at your destination
• Do not keep your vehicle registration and other personal documents in your car. This could lead to the theft of your automobile, and the theft of your identity as well
According to Statistics Canada, “motor vehicle theft is one of the most frequent police-reported offences in Canada.” Auto theft is a crime that is not going away, but with common sense and vigilance, consumers can minimize the risk of having their vehicles stolen.
This column represents the views and values of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to tada.ca. Cliff Lafreniere is president of the TADA and is president of Pinewood Park Motors (Ford) in Kirkland Lake. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.