Automobile theft

Every day, 35 vehicles are stolen in Québec. This represents a total of 12,455 thefts in 2018 and more than $130 million paid out in compensation by auto insurers in Québec alone. Some vehicles are stolen to sell whole or for parts, while others are stolen for export overseas, or to commit other crimes.

Theft is not a crime that affects only the insurance industry. The associated costs greatly exceed the insurance payouts if one considers the resources involved in fighting this crime (police and legal system). Plus all the inconveniences that theft can cause its victims.

To combat such a crime effectively, we must work on several fronts and this requires the contribution of various stakeholders. 

Are you at risk of having your vehicle stolen?

Nobody wants to have their vehicle stolen even if it is insured against theft. Not only is it inconvenient to be without it for a period of time, this crime can leave you feeling insecure. 

Protect your vehicle against theft: simple and effective measures

  • Never leave your vehicle unattended with the keys in sight
  • Lock doors and close both windows and the sun roof
  • Park your vehicle in a well-lit area, if possible in a garage
  • Never leave the insurance and registration certificates in the vehicle
  • Place valuable objects and packages out of sight in the trunk
  • Keep your keys in a safe place, far from the front door
  • Check out protection programs offered by your insurer

Before you finalize the purchase of a new or used vehicle

  • Check the cost of insuring the vehicle of your dreams; if it is a theft risk, it will cost more to insure. This is especially true for SUVs, which have been very popular with thieves in recent years.
  • Interested in a pre-owned vehicle? Watch out if the offer sounds too good. Check the Register of personal and movable real rights (RDPRM) to make sure the vehicle is debt free. If you want to authenticate your vehicle and check that it was not stolen, contact IBC’s Investigative Services Division.

Fighting auto theft: the intervention of several partners is essential

Fighting a crime like auto theft requires the collaboration and commitment of numerous partners. It is also important to know the various facets of this phenomenon in order to better counter it.

Vehicles are, in fact, stolen for different reasons :

  • Resale
  • Stripped and parts resold
  • Exported overseas
  • To commit other crimes

IBC suggests you take the following measures :

  • Make sure the rules in effect are respected to prevent stolen vehicles from being put back on the road, or parts resold.
  • Tighten controls for the resale of used parts to make sure that the used vehicle parts are legally sold.
  • Tighten controls at ports to limit exports overseas.
  • Multiply investigations into criminal networks in order to dismantle them.
  • Make vehicles more difficult to steal or, if they are stolen, easier to find.
  • Adopt prevention behaviour to reduce the risk of theft.

These measures require everyone’s participation: manufacturers, as well as new and used car dealers, police forces, insurers and repairers, consumers and, lastly, the authorities responsible for monitoring car fleets, customs and the legal system.

Stopping the export of vehicles overseas

Auto theft dropped significantly in Québec from 2007 to 2017. According to the Groupement des assureurs automobiles, the number of claims related to private passenger vehicles was down from 14,364 to 5,524, while total payouts decreased about 50%, from $200 million to $107 million during the same period.

However, industry stats show that the vehicles stolen are more and more expensive, with the average cost up from $14,000 in 2007 to nearly $20,000 in 2017. It was also noted that the vehicles at highest risk of being stolen are high-end vehicles. Various measures were introduced to help to protect vehicles (mandatory approved anti-theft system for new vehicles sold since 2007) and to tighten controls for automobile fleets and the resale of used parts. These measures have had results.

Given the low recovery rate for stolen vehicles, 33% in Quebec, the work accomplished by IBC’s Investigative Services Division, however, shows that auto theft, as we know it today, is the work of well-organized networks that use various strategies to circumvent the rules in place and continue their criminal activities. 

That is why IBC is focussing its efforts, together with the Port of Montreal, the City of Montreal police force and Canada Border Service Agency to counter the export of stolen vehicles and, thus, try to recover more of them. 

Making drivers aware

IBC is also continuing to create awareness among drivers reminding them about what they need to do to make life more difficult for thieves and reduce the risk of having their vehicle stolen.