The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) released its annual list of the top 10 most frequently stolen vehicles in Canada and reported on new trends in organized auto theft.
According to Rick Dubin, Vice-President, Investigative Services, “Organized criminals are now dismantling higher-end vehicles and exporting them in pieces instead of as whole vehicles because they are less likely to be detected.” These vehicles get reassembled as far away as West Africa and then resold, he says.
Dubin believes this new creative approach is a reaction to detecting and seizing $8 million worth of stolen vehicles in 2013 by Canada Border Services Agency working in partnership with IBC investigators at the Ports of Montreal and Halifax. “It’s a trend we will continue to watch.”
On IBC’s top 10 list, the 2000 Honda Civic SiR 2DR sits at the top for the second year in a row and high-end SUVs and Ford trucks hold most other spots.
“Thieves consistently target the Honda Civic to chop for parts. Those parts are easy to resell because there are so many Civics on the road,” says Dubin.
The stolen Escalades and Ford series trucks on the list are now showing up less frequently at the ports for export, says Dubin. They are being re-identified (reVINed) and sold throughout Canada to unsuspecting consumers.
“Auto theft remains a big business for organized crime in Canada,” Dubin says.
The top 10 most frequently stolen vehicles across Canada are:
1. 2000 Honda Civic SiR 2DR
2. 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer SS 4DR 4WD SUV
3. 2002 Cadillac Escalade 4DR 4WD SUV
4. 2005 Cadillac Escalade 4DR 4WD SUV
5. 2006 Ford F350 SD 4WD PU
6. 2005 Cadillac Escalade ESV 4DR AWD SUV
7. 2006 Acura RSX Type S 2DR 2D
8. 2007 Ford F250 SD 4WD PU
9. 2007 Ford F350 SD 4WD PU
10. 2003 Acura RSX Type S 2DR 2D
Trucks remain a hot target
IBC research shows that four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicles, including Ford F350 and 250 series trucks along with Cadillac Escalades, remain a target for thieves.
“This should come as no surprise,” says Dubin. “Many of these higher-end vehicles are stolen in Atlantic Canada and Quebec and they end up being reVINed and sold in other parts of the country. It’s a lucrative market for big, rugged vehicles.”
Despite declines in recent years, auto theft is still big business in Canada. The number of vehicles stolen annually has dropped dramatically recently to 78,000, which amounts to 4,500 fewer motor vehicle thefts in 2012 than in 2011, and a 57 per cent drop from a decade ago.
A new threat
Despite this trend toward fewer vehicle thefts, Dubin is concerned that in 2012, there were nationally 12,739 incidents of identity theft and identity fraud reported to police, which is a five per cent increase from 2011.
“Motorists should remain vigilant. Fewer motor vehicle thefts mean criminals look for new ways to commit crimes.” Dubin urged motorists not to keep vehicle ownerships, liability pink slips, credit card invoices and other documents containing personal information in vehicles. Identity thieves are looking for such documents so they can assume identities, secure credit card accounts, lease vehicles for export and even take out a mortgage against victims’ properties without their knowledge. Victims may not realize they have been victimized until it is too late, costing them time and money to rectify the damage.
“We need to keep fighting crime on all fronts,” says Dubin. “IBC works with police, insurers and government agencies like Canada Border Services Agency to prevent and detect vehicle theft but we all need to be more vigilant and not make it easy for thieves.”
Tips for consumers
Don’t be tricked into buying a stolen vehicle. IBC recommends that consumers considering buying a used car should purchase from a reputable dealer. Always run a vehicle history and if buying a used car privately, have it inspected by a trusted mechanic. Also, to avoid having stolen parts put onto your vehicle during repairs, only deal with reputable repair shops. Your insurance company can recommend one.
It’s important to remember that a professional thief can steal your car in about 30 seconds. But there are a few simple precautions that you can take to foil a criminal:
• Never leave your vehicle running unattended.
• Park in well-lit areas.
• Always roll up your car windows, lock the doors and pocket and protect your keys.
• Never leave valuables or packages in full view. Put them in the trunk.
• Park your car in the garage at night.
Dubin says: “Finally, this one drives me crazy and I still see it all the time, people just leave their keys in the ignition, while going in for a coffee and doughnut or warming up their car unattended in the morning. Twenty per cent of all stolen cars have keys in them.”