Automobile theft

Every day, about 29 vehicles are stolen in Quebec. In 2022, this resulted in a total of 10,595 vehicle theft claims and over $370 million paid out by Quebec auto insurers alone. Some vehicles are stolen to be exported abroad or resold whole or in parts, while others are stolen to commit other crimes.

Auto theft is a crime that affects more than just the insurance industry. If we consider the resources deployed to counter it, including police services and the judicial system, the associated costs far outweigh the value of the insurance claims that are paid out. Not to mention the trouble that auto theft can cause its victims.

This type of crime must be fought on several fronts, which requires the contributions of many parties, including political leaders, police forces, insurers, border services, the automotive industry and consumers.

Are you at risk of having your vehicle stolen?

No one wants to have their vehicle stolen, even if they are insured against theft. There are always drawbacks to not having a car for a period of time, not to mention the sense of insecurity that such crimes can create.

Keyless car theft

In recent years, keyless car theft has emerged as a new way of stealing vehicles. It targets cars with remote keys or keyless push-button starters, which are very common for recent models.

The cars are stolen using mobile devices or laptops and specialized software. Hackers remotely capture the transmitter signal from the key fob, which might be in the house or the owner’s handbag, to unlock and steal the vehicle. Alternatively, vehicle computer systems can be hacked directly without access to the key.

Vehicles stolen in these ways can be identified by their undamaged locks.

Fighting auto theft: prevention through awareness

To combat a crime like auto theft, it’s important to understand the multifaceted nature of the phenomenon.

Vehicles are stolen for a variety of reasons:

  • Export to other countries
  • Vehicle resale
  • Dismantling for parts
  • Using the vehicle to commit other crimes

There is also a growing incidence of violent car theft.

Different measures to focus on according to IBC:

  • Make vehicles harder to steal and easier to trace
  • Tighten port controls to limit the export of stolen vehicles
  • Provide more resources for coordinated law enforcement between agencies
  • Reinforce controls on the resale of used parts to ensure they are sold legally
  • Ensure compliance with current regulations to prevent stolen vehicles from being put back on the road and stolen parts from being resold
  • Adopt preventive behaviours that reduce the risk of theft

Auto theft is one of IBC’s priorities in Quebec, and we’re stepping up our activities to counter it through government relations, stakeholder awareness and media relations.

IBC is also continuing its awareness-raising work with drivers to remind them of behaviours to adopt to make life more difficult for thieves and reduce the risk of having vehicles stolen.

Countering the export of stolen vehicles: work on several fronts

IBC and its members believe that strong federal leadership is needed to tackle the important problem of vehicle theft. In this regard, the National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft and the announced funding measures are important steps toward the establishment of a national action plan to combat the proliferation of auto theft.

IBC and its members are working with governments and other partners to address the auto theft crisis in Canada. In particular, they are collaborating with Équité Association, an organization that works with the police and authorities to prevent the export of vehicles, dismantle theft networks and recover vehicles.

Numbers that speak volumes

Auto theft is skyrocketing in Quebec and Canada. For the ten-year period from 2012 to 2022, the number of auto theft claims in Quebec has soared by 42% and the average cost of claims has risen by 145%, according to figures from the Groupement des assureurs automobiles.

The numbers show that 10,595 claims were made for entire-vehicle theft in 2022, while the average value of a claim was $35,168.

Équité Association has found that across Canada, insurers paid out over $1 billion in stolen vehicle claims in 2022, marking a historic milestone.