How to Prevent Auto Theft

By Lori Straus

Earlier this year, Volkswagen released a popular commercial for the Jetta GLI that suggests that the car’s stick shift prevents auto theft. Although news stories about car thefts abandoned because of stick shifts show up on occasion, driving one doesn’t necessarily protect your car from theft. On the other side of the spectrum, you don’t need to pay for a Tesla either to reduce the chances of your vehicle being stolen.

New Cars Aren’t Necessarily the Target for Auto Thieves

This may come as a surprise, but the top ten most frequently stolen vehicles in Ontario from 2018 aren’t new or almost new vehicles, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. In fact, the newest vehicle on the list is from 2012. The oldest? From 2002. This trend doesn’t always hold, however. In 2017, the top two most frequently stolen vehicles in Ontario were from 2015 and 2016.

Why Do Cars Get Stolen?

Generally speaking, thieves don’t target you, they target your vehicle. Why? The Toronto Police website lists the following reasons:

  • To sell the entire vehicle or take it apart for parts. This often happens outside of the province or even Canada.
  • To resell to unsuspecting consumers who are defrauded of their money. This is done by curbsiders, people who pose as private owners but who actually illegally sell used vehicles.
  • To get somewhere. Thieves will simply steal a vehicle so they can drive to their destination, where they’ll abandon it.
  • To commit other crimes. Why use your own car to commit a drive-by shooting when you can use someone else’s?

10 Simple Ways to Help Prevent Auto Theft

The Toronto Police suggests these steps to reduce the chances of your vehicle being stolen:

  • Turn off the ignition when you park and take your keys with you.
  • Park in a well-lit, well-attended area.
  • Move all valuables to your trunk and lock it.
  • Close and lock all doors and windows.
  • Park with your wheels turned to the side to make towing your vehicle harder.
  • At home, lock your vehicle in your garage if possible.
  • Back into the driveway if your vehicle has rear-wheel drive. Park forwards if front-wheel drive.
  • Set the emergency brake anytime you park your car, even at home.
  • Keep your ownership and insurance cards with you—not in the vehicle—when you leave it.
  • Leaving business cards or address labels inside the doors can help with vehicle identification later.

Anti-Theft Devices

You’ll find a number of devices online to prevent auto theft. Here are a few of them:

Car Alarm System

Anti-Theft Steering Wheel Lock (The Club)

According to a 2016 article in The Atlantic, car alarms simply don’t work; we’ve come to ignore them. A more effective device shuts off the engine when the key isn’t nearby. The Toronto Police website says that

electronic alarms with a kill switch “are the most effective.”

Different Kinds of Locks

Various locks prevent access to different parts of your vehicle. For example, a steering wheel lock prevents your steering wheel from turning. A hood lock keeps your hood closed, preventing thieves from harvesting parts from your unattended vehicle. An anti-theft brake lock locks down the brake pedal.

Stay Safe, Don’t Approach a Car Thief, and Report Any Theft to Police

If you see your vehicle being stolen, do not approach the thief. There is nothing in your car that is worth getting hurt over. (And if there is, then that’s likely why your car is being stolen in the first place.) Call the police right away and report the theft.

Follow the above tips, though, and you’ll help prevent auto theft of your vehicle.