REGINA – It’s not a title you want to brag about.
Regina holds the dubious distinction of the highest rate of auto thefts in the country.
The numbers have improved in the last decade, with under 800 vehicles reported stolen in 2013, compared to 3,500 in 2001.
The numbers have decreased by roughly 70 per cent, which Curtis McMurphy, Central Canadian Auto Theft Association president, credits mostly to new technology.
“Manufacturers are making it impossible. Thieves used to, what they called, hot wire a vehicle. It’s becoming more and more complicated, so thieves look for an easier target instead of trying to target a brand new vehicle,” he explained.
Improved antitheft devices came in response to a strong demand from the insurance industry.
Scott Knechtel, a special investigator with Saskatchewan Government Insurance, stresses car thefts affect more than just the vehicle’s owner.
“These costs have to be covered somehow, so what happens? Insurance rates have to be raised. So SGI alone, we pay out as I said, millions of dollars for vehicles that are stolen.”
The biggest way to protect yourself from falling victim to a car theft is to make it difficult for thieves, including hiding valuables in your vehicle and locking your doors.
Bob Morin, Regina Police Service deputy chief, said leaving keys in vehicles is largely contributing to the city’s high rate of auto thefts.
“Originally they were being stolen for joy riding,” Morin explained, “I think that’s still part of the pieces and the other is sometimes they’re involved in the commission of other crimes.”
Older vehicles, foreign cars, and diesel trucks are among the most targeted types of vehicles stolen in Regina.
The Regina Police Service is hosting the Central Canadian Auto Theft Association’s annual conference until Thursday, which aims to connect investigators and representatives from across North America to help address the issue of auto thefts.