The number of vehicle thefts in Manitoba aren’t as high as they were last year, but that doesn’t mean they’re low.
In its capital alone, Winnipeg Police Service said there were 2,292 reported vehicle thefts this year between January and August — 9.6-per cent less than last year’s 2,535 reports, but 11.1-per cent higher than the five-year average.
Manitoba RCMP said there’s a similar trend in its jurisdiction, with 1624 vehicles reported stolen year to date. That’s 100 less than last year, but above the five-year average.
Ewald Friesen, manager of government and community relations for CAA Manitoba, said the lift has been a trend nationwide. “According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, there’s been a car stolen every six minutes,” he said.
“Oftentimes when it comes to auto theft, we have to bear in mind that there’s generally two categories. There’s crimes of opportunity, and then there are other alarming trends which are linked to organized crime.”
Lorraine Sommerfield, an automotive journalist, told 680 CJOB that Canada is “basically the world shopping cart. They send their wish list, and organized crime is picking them out of our — usually most expensive — pockets. Now Winnipeg is joining that line.”
She said people are buying expensive vehicles, “and those are the vehicles — the big SUVs, the fancy pick-up trucks — that is what is coveted by these other places in the world.”
Sommerfield and Friesen said the number one most stolen car is the Honda CRV.
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Last year, the Équité Association reported the top five most stolen cars in Canada were the Land Rover Range Rover, Jeep Gladiator, Lexus RX Series, Honda Passport and Acura RDX.
“Give yourself a clear indication of how much risk you’re at with your vehicle,” Sommerfield said.
Friesen said there are ways to prevent auto theft.
“Getting an antitheft device like a club, or a faraday box or pouch. Parking your car — proactively getting that car out of sight out of mind, whether that’s a garage or further away from the street. Install a tracker in your car, so if your car is stolen, you can help law enforcement find it,” Friesen said.
“You can install an immobilizer, which would ensure that nobody’s starting your car without your fob present. Finally, lock your doors and windows and get the valuables off your dash and backseat.”
Sommerfield said the biggest problem are keyless fobs. “We need keys because now, they interrupt the signal (and) they can steal them so quickly. What used to take half an hour takes two minutes.”
Friesen said the faraday box can help with that.
“It’s a box, or a pouch, which blocks the radio signal from your key fob” he said. “This prevents things from hacking your signal and getting access to your vehicle.”
Manufacturers should be taking the lead on preventative measures like this, Sommerfield said. “Why do I have to spend 60, 70, $80,000 on a vehicle and then spend another couple thousand on an immobilizer and locks?”
A club is among the cheaper options, she said.
Friesen said manufacturers of many modern cars do install immobilizers. “You can, of course, install these aftermarket, but we encourage you to check on your car’s warranty prior to installing one, because it may impact the warranty of your car.”
Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) adds a few more, cost-free tips:
- Never (even if it’s just for five minutes) leave your vehicle unlocked, unattended and running.
- Don’t leave keys in your vehicle.
- Always lock your vehicle.
- Park your vehicle in a well-lit area.
- Always keep keys in a safe, out-of-sight place.
Even with preventative measures in place, Friesen said, “if that auto thief is dedicated, they will find a way.”
He said to be prepared in the frustrating event your car is stolen. “Write down your (vehicle identification number). Make sure you have the details. Take a photo of your car to give law enforcement a little hand finding the car after the fact,” he said.
Before you do anything else, Friesen said if your car gets stolen, call police.
“You would never want to put yourself, or a family member, in any jeopardy. Involve law enforcement,” he said.
Once you have a police report number, MPI said to call it and open a claim. “Customers may be required to pay their deductible, depending on which coverage option they have chosen,” it said.
Further tips for preventing your vehicle from theft can be found on CAA’s website.