Canada’s Équité Association, a national organization with the mandate of reducing and preventing insurance fraud and crime and its impacts, recently released its list of the top 10 stolen autos of 2021. This list should be of interest to anyone owning a featured vehicle, as those in the auto insurance industry warn that you will more than likely face higher insurance payments despite a clean driving record and a claims-free history.
Stolen vehicles are an issue. In 2018, Calgary beat the rest of Canada for the total number of stolen vehicles, with 6,183 pinched during the calendar year. 2017 was no better, with about 111 vehicles stolen each week, also clinching first place for Calgary. Things have improved over the last couple years, however, with 5,291 car thefts in the city in 2020 and 4,985 thefts in 2021. Over five years (2016 to 2021) 6,365 vehicles were stolen, representing a drop of -21.7% from the previous five years.
Most stolen vehicles in Alberta
Albertans love their trucks. We use them for work, to help get us through months of snow- and ice-covered roads, and to haul around hockey bags, golf clubs, ATVs, snowmobiles, and all kinds of recreational equipment. That’s why it’s no surprise that nine out of the 10 vehicles on the most stolen list are trucks, with the Dodge Journey, a mid-size crossover SUV, being the only exception.
- Ford F350 Series 1997-2007
- Dodge Ram 1500 Series 2009-2018
- Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/Sierra 2500 Series1999-2006
- Ford F150 Series 2009-2014
- Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/Sierra 1500 Series 1999-2006
- Ford F150 Series 2015-2020
- Ford F250 Series 1997-2007
- Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/Sierra 1500 Series 2007-2017
- Dodge RAM 1500 Series 2019-2021
- Dodge Journey 2009-2020
The Ford F-Series is incredibly popular in Alberta. Older models are targeted because of locking and ignition technology available at the time of manufacturing that thieves are well-acquainted with and know how to override. F-Series trucks built prior to 2007, when electric vehicle immobilizer systems, which prevent hot-wiring, were mandated, are at the top of the list for a reason. Since the F-Series is so popular, their parts also go quickly on the black market and they earn a high resale value overseas.
Most stolen vehicles in Canada
Hondas of any kind are popular across Canada, and trucks are also targeted outside of the province.
- Honda CR-V 2016-2021
- Lexus RX Series 2016-2021
- Ford F150 Series 2015-2020
- Honda Civic 2016-2021
- Toyota Highlander 2013-2019
- Ram 1500 Series 2011-2018
- Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/Sierra 1500 1999-2006
- Honda Accord 2018-2021
- Jeep Grand Cherokee 2011-2020
- Toyota RAV4 2013-2018
How are thieves gaining access to vehicles?
While the older Ford F-Series trucks may have a vulnerability to exploit, thieves are also using technology more and more to gain access to vehicles. A popular method is to access the onboard diagnostic port (ODP) in your vehicle, which is the gatekeeper to a vehicle’s electronic systems. Thieves break into a vehicle, plug into the ODP and then program themselves a new key fob.
Another sneaky method criminals use is to mark vehicles they have targeted for theft with a tracking tag, such as an AirTag or SmartTag normally used to help people find their lost phones or laptops. They then virtually follow your vehicle to your home and go to work on stealing it late at night when everyone is usually asleep.
More recently, “relay attacks” have become more common. Thieves, working in pairs, use an antenna to intercept signals from key fobs left near doors to homes. One walks near front doors holding the antenna while the other tries pulling car door handles. When the handle is pulled, it triggers a signal from the fob if it is close enough. The antenna then sends the correct radio frequency. The thieves can ten easily reprogram a new fob, access your vehicle and drive it away, all within a manner of minutes.
A defense against a relay attack is to keep your car keys well away from doors and/or purchase what is called a Faraday box or pouch that blocks signals from the fob.
CPS asks citizens to report suspicious activity to police immediately by calling 403-266-1234 or 9-1-1 for crimes in progress.
Never leave your car idling and unlocked
Calgary Police Services (CPS) also warns car owners to never leave vehicles running and unlocked, however tempting it may be during the cold winter months. Operation Cold Start, which launched in January 2022, is a crime-prevention initiative aimed at stopping auto theft due to idling and unoccupied vehicles.
From November 2021 to January 2022, there were 284 vehicles stolen in Calgary while left running and unattended. A running vehicle can be stolen in less than 30 seconds, and the public can assist greatly simply by being diligent about turning off and locking their vehicles.
Idling vehicles are not only a target for thieves, they are bad for a lot of reasons. Idling not only wastes a lot of fuel (just 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting your car), but also “strips” oil from components such as cylinders and pistons. In addition, the fastest way to warm a vehicle up is not through idling. It is through driving. A moving vehicle will warm up its oil much faster than a stationary vehicle.
Idling is also very bad for the environment. National Resources Canada says that, “… if Canadian motorists avoided idling for just three minutes every day of the year, CO2 emissions could be reduced by 1.4 million tonnes annually. This would be equal to saving 630 million litres of fuel and equivalent to taking 320,000 cars off of the road for the entire year.”
Avoid car theft and save on insurance premiums
Find out additional ways to avoid your vehicle being stolen and what to do if it is in this Lane’s Insurance article.
The statistical likelihood that your vehicle will be stolen can affect your car insurance rates, but working with a trustworthy insurance broker will keep your costs to a minimum without affecting the quality of your coverage. Lane’s Insurance of Calgary is a leading brokerage serving Alberta, offering affordable insurance bundles, excellent advice, outstanding claims support and the industry’s best customer service. Contact us at our Calgary, Edmonton, Banff, and Alberta offices.