Vehicle Theft in Canada

Prevalance of Vehicle Theft

Vehicle theft is a crime that affects many Canadians, both directly and indirectly. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, on average, a vehicle is stolen every seven minutes in Canada. Alberta, accounting for 29% of the national number of vehicle thefts, has the highest incidence in all of Canada, and it continues to increase. An average of 68 vehicles are stolen in Alberta every day; adding up to over 24,000 stolen vehicles a year.

Vehicles Stolen by Province (2017)

Vehicles Stolen by Year (Alberta)

Vehicle theft is a significant cost-driver for comprehensive coverage premiums. The financial cost to consumers, police, insurance companies, and governments has been estimated by the Insurance Bureau of Canada to be more than $1 billion annually. With Alberta’s disproportionally high vehicle theft rates, a significant amount of these costs will be experienced within the province.

Many vehicle thefts are avoidable. In January 2018, one quarter of vehicles stolen in the province had their keys inside. By practicing some preventative measures, Albertans could save money on insurance premiums and reduce the inconvenience and costs associated with having a vehicle stolen. With the opportunistic nature of the crime, many vehicle thefts are preventable, and the best strategy is to take a proactive approach.

How to Reduce your Risk

To reduce your risk of becoming a victim of vehicle theft, the following are some easy steps that can be taken:

  • Lock vehicle doors and keep windows rolled up.
  • Park in a locked garage or a well-lit and well-populated area.
  • Remove keys, garage openers and vehicle registration papers from the vehicle when you leave it.
  • Check on the vehicle regularly even if it is not being used.
  • Refrain from leaving vehicle unlocked and running, unless a remote start system is installed in the vehicle.
  • Refrain from leaving any items in an unattended vehicle, even in the trunk.
  • Install a vehicle alarm.
  • Use a steering wheel locking device.
  • Avoid purchasing a vehicle with a high risk for theft; refer to the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s list of the top ten stolen vehicles.

For more tips on keeping your vehicle safe from theft, refer to the Alberta Motor Association’s 9 Smart Tips to Outwit Vehicle Thieves.

Indirect Consequences of Vehicle Theft

Vehicle theft also has indirect consequences:

  • Many police chases involve stolen vehicles; the resulting reckless driving of the thief can cause injury or death to innocent bystanders.
  • RCMP investigators in British Columbia found one out of three stolen identity documents such as insurance papers, driver's licenses and passports being used to create fraudulent identification can be traced back to vehicle theft files.
  • Keys or garage door openers taken from a vehicle can provide a thief with access to other property or vehicles.
  • Vehicles are often stolen to be used by criminals to commit, or aid in committing, other crimes.