By Blair Qualey
April is Auto Crime Prevention Month and the latest available data underlines that this is a very significant issue in British Columbia.
An astounding 10,684 vehicles were reported stolen in B.C. in 2021, according to the B.C. government. However, some more positive news is that auto crime has also decreased 16 per cent since the pandemic.
The drop doesn’t mean we should no longer be vigilant: There’s a great deal that we can all do to limit the chance of would-be thieves targeting our vehicles. The Insurance Corporation of BC and the Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team (IMPACT) have provided the following security tips on how to lock out auto crime:
- Wait for garage door gates to close behind you. Don’t give thieves a chance to sneak into a parkade.
- Park in areas that are secure, well-lit, and near pedestrian traffic.
- Always lock your doors and close the windows, even if you’re only away from your vehicle for a few minutes.
- Park close to a wall or barricade. Thieves will have a harder time breaking into or getting under your vehicle.
- Keep your garage door opener out of sight. Put it in a glove box, in another concealed place or take it with you.
- Remove valuables from your vehicle. Shopping bags, tools, spare change, credit cards, electronics, and brief cases all tempt a thief. If this isn’t an option, put them in the trunk.
- Don’t store a spare key in your vehicle. Keep it at home or on you. In addition, consider storing your keys in a metal container or Faraday bag, both of which prevent thieves from remotely retrieving information from your fob. If thieves do retrieve it, they can use it to replicate your fob and steal your vehicle.
- Treat your keys like cash. Never leave them unguarded, such as at the gym or the office.
From a security standpoint, older vehicles tend to have weaker door locks and fewer modern security measures such as electronic engine immobilizers. If your vehicle was manufactured prior to 2007, you may want to use a steering-wheel lock to better secure your vehicle. All cars, vans, light trucks and SUVs built after Sept. 1, 2007 are required to have anti-theft engine immobilizers.
For additional security purposes, there’s the option of buying a security camera and installing it in a discreet place by your vehicle at home. In the event your car is stolen, you can take this footage to the police to help identify the suspect.
Unfortunately, your car may still be broken into even if you follow all these precautions. Don’t panic if this is the case, but report the incident to local police.
Auto-crime won’t be going away anytime soon. While auto-theft systems are becoming more advanced, thieves are still finding new ways to steal vehicles. Remember to take the above steps to help prevent auto crime from happening to you.
April was deemed Auto Crime Enforcement month for the first time in 2014 to help raise awareness about the issue. Auto crime is a persistent threat, but you can help protect your vehicle by identifying risks and taking away opportunities for thieves. For more information on IMPACT, auto theft prevention tips and a list of wanted auto crime offenders in B.C., please visit IMPACT’s website.
Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org