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What auto theft prevention devices should you use?

April 19, 2024
4 mins
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(This article has been updated from a previous version.)

Auto theft has reached crisis levels across the country. According to Équité Association, a car is stolen every five minutes in Canada, with auto thefts in both Ontario and Quebec seeing increases of up to 50% in 2022.

That’s why you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your car. These theft prevention devices might include installing devices like a steering wheel lock, wireless door alarm and keyless entry security to deter increasingly sophisticated thieves.

Using theft prevention devices won’t only provide you protection, but they may also save you money on insurance.

Read more: Thefts drive up insurance premiums by 25% on most stolen vehicles

What are your auto theft prevention options?

There are several ways you can better secure your vehicle to deter thieves, whether it’s by making the vehicle difficult to physically move or raising an alarm when the attempt is made. Here are some recommendations:

  • Steering wheel lock: The most popular brand is The Club, which locks onto the steering wheel with one pull. Not only is it resistant to sawing and hammering, and even freon attacks, The Club has three laser encrypted keys that cannot be duplicated.
  • Security tire clamp: It is a very visible option that wraps around your wheel to prevent theft attempts without scratching or damaging your wheel rims.
  • Brake lock: It fits around the brake or clutch pedal of your car, making it impossible for the pedal to be used until the lock is taken off. It can also be attached to both the steering wheel and brake, making it difficult to use the brake or steer the vehicle.
  • Wireless door alarms: If your car lacks a built-in alarm, you can install a wireless anti-theft security alarm inside your door. It sticks with a double-sided sticker or ties with a strap. When a thief tries to break in, a very loud alarm will sound.
  • Tracking systems: Install a wireless or GPS tracking system such as the Tag system to emit a signal to the police or a monitoring service if your vehicle is stolen.
  • Decoy alert signals: Even without an alarm system, use fake alarm boxes with flashing lights and stickers. Thieves may think your car is well-protected.

In response to the spike in auto theft, some insurance companies across Canada started imposing a $500 surcharge to owners of cars that are considered commonly stolen. This charge can then be lifted once the drivers provide proof of purchase of an anti-theft device.

Your car may be an attractive model

Some cars are more popular with thieves, and because they are frequently targeted, they cost more to insure. In 2022, Honda and Dodge dominated the top 10 list of stolen vehicles in Canada, according to a report released by Équité Association in November of 2023, although theft popularity can differ by province.

Pickup trucks, particularly the Ford F-Series, are popular with thieves in Alberta, for example. Meanwhile, in Ontario, thieves tend to target Lexus and high-end Toyota models.

People steal cars for different reasons, however, the overwhelming majority of stolen vehicles in Canada, particularly in Ontario and Quebec, are linked to organized crime rings who either export them overseas to make profit or resell them domestically.

Specific car parts may also be a target 

It’s not always the entire vehicle you have to worry about being stolen. There are specific parts that are worth a lot to a car thief, so you may find something missing from your vehicle.

In 2021, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) reported a rise in catalytic converter thefts across the province. The cost of a catalytic converter can greatly fluctuate based on the specific car model and manufacturer. As of 2022, a small aftermarket catalytic converter might only be worth $100, while a large and rare converter could be worth over $1,200, making it an appealing part for thieves to steal.

To deter thieves from getting your catalytic converter, try to park with your tailpipe as close to the wall as possible so thieves have less room to reach for the converter. You may also consider etching your VIN number on the catalytic converter to make sure it’s traceable and recoverable.

Thieves also frequently target car tires and wheels because they can easily be removed and resold on the market. For example, high-end customized rims can cost $1,000 apiece. If you’re particularly concerned about your rims, consider investing in a set of wheel locks, which are similar to lug nuts but require a special key to remove (they are often called anti-theft lug nuts).

Air bags are another tempting part to steal as they can usually retail for upwards of $7,00 and can be resold for a couple of hundred dollars or more. For that reason, you might consider getting a steering wheel lock to prevent thieves from breaking into your car and stealing it.

Related: How to prevent your vehicle from being stolen & filing a claim in case it happens

Good habits can help reduce the risk of theft

Adopting good habits can also reduce the chance of your car getting stolen such as:

  • Lock your vehicle’s doors, close the windows, and don’t leave your keys in the car.
  • If your car has a digital key, make sure no one else has permission to access your car and keep your phone and all connected devices in secure places.
  • It’s tempting during the winter to leave your car running while you dash into a store for a few minutes, but it is an open invitation to car thieves who can easily hop in and drive away with it.
  • Don’t leave any valuables in your vehicle or at least make sure they’re not visible. Stashing them in the trunk is an option but be aware some thieves will specifically stroll parking lots to break into the trunks, knowing there may be valuables inside. Also,  any items in your vehicle, such as a mobile phone or a set of golf clubs are not covered by an auto policy. It’s your home, condo, or tenant insurance policy that covers your personal possessions.
  • Always make a habit of parking in well-lit areas. If you don’t have a garage to park your car in at home, make sure your driveway is well-lit as thieves are less likely to steal a car if it can be seen by a passerby.
  • Never keep your personal information inside your car, including the vehicle registration and your insurance pink cards.
  • Even if you follow these habits and install a theft prevention device, you can still fall victim to a car thief. If your vehicle is stolen, you need to immediately contact the police and your insurance company.
  • No one wants the stress that comes with having a vehicle stolen, so it’s worth taking the time to investigate your options for investing in theft prevention devices. Your insurer may even give you a discount on your premium because of your efforts.

Learn more: Can a vehicle’s safety features get you cheaper car insurance?

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Gary Hilson

Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has produced thousands of words for print and pixel about business and technology for a variety of publications and corporate clients. When he’s not tapping on the keyboard, Gary collects comic books, attends live theater, constructs Lego, and buys books he always intends to read.

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