In Ontario, there is an average of some 232 vehicles stolen a day. Within a year, some 24,000 vehicles are stolen.
If these numbers seem higher than normal to you, it’s because they are! Cases of car theft are on the rise in Canada, and Ontario is the first-ranked province for cars stolen. A new form of theft is contributing to these rising statistics. If you own a vehicle with keyless ignition, one of those vehicles that can be started simply by having the keys in the car and not in the ignition, you may be at higher risk.
Car theft is no small crime. Every year, cases of automobile theft cost Canadians nearly $1 billion, with roughly $542 million of that cost for insurers to replace or repair stolen vehicles and another $250 million for health care, court system expenses, police services, and several million on top of that for additional correctional care.
Auto Theft Using Wireless Key Fobs
Stealing a car is much easier for thieves – forget the days of hot-wiring. Any car with a wireless key fob can now be tricked. These key fobs are constantly giving off wireless signals, so if your keys are in range anyone can hijack and imitate these signals. Thieves are accessing these signals by placing a relay box close to your home in an attempt to listen to the specific key fob signal inside, and then forward that signal to your car in the driveway. Once they can relay the signal, they simply open your car doors and drive away with your car.
This type of theft is occurring in cities across Canada. CBC recently reported on a theft happening as close to home as London Ontario. To read the article, click here.
Another way that thieves are stealing your car is by capturing the key fob signal when you lock your car from a distance at the mall. We have all done it; you leave your car, check that you have everything while you walk towards the mall door. Then realize you haven’t locked the car. A quick press of the key fob and the vehicle is locked. Unfortunately, you may have unknowingly allowed a thief to capture your unique key signal. Using the same relay boxes, thieves can capture your key fob signal from afar and gain access to your car while you are shopping.
How Can You Prevent This?
The solution to this is actually quite simple: at home, don’t keep your keys close to the front door. By keeping the keys away from your front door, they’re not able to get a strong enough signal to unlock the door. Additionally, it’s suggested you store your key fob in a metal container with a lid, something like a cocktail shaker works great!
At the mall, lock your car using the lock button on the outside of your vehicle rather than the key fob. This will limit the distribution of the key fob signal and eliminate the chances of thieves picking it up.
Comprehensive Auto Insurance Can Cover Theft & Vandalism
Without a doubt, the best way to avoid any damages or out-of-pocket costs from car theft is to prevent your car from being stolen in the first place. If you have a “wireless key fob” vehicle, keeping your key fob away from your vehicle while it is parked or storing it somewhere safe where the signal cannot be distributed is the best way to do this. Moreover, you can generally be safer about your vehicle by parking it in public, well-lit areas, stowing it in a garage or a secure parking garage facility, and avoiding leaving any visible valuables in the open, like phones, wallets, etc.
But, if car theft does happen, is it insurable? Comprehensive coverage will generally cover theft, including repair costs if there are any break-in damages or damages sustained after your vehicle has been returned to you by police. However, if personal belongings were stolen from your car, your comprehensive auto coverage will not include coverage for these. If you have a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, however, these items may have coverage. In a situation where someone breaks into your vehicle and steals your belongings, two claims may need to be filed – one through your auto insurance, for the damages, and one through your home insurance, for the belongings stolen.
Keep in mind that comprehensive auto coverage is not automatically included with your auto policy. It requires separate purchase and covers perils such as fire, falling objects, and of course vandalism and theft.
If you are the victim of vehicle theft, break-in, or vandalism call the police first! Report the incident, as your car insurance provider may need you to file a police report. Take note of any and all damages to your vehicle and take photos where you can. Finally, contact your auto insurance company (and home or renter’s insurance, if your belongings were stolen) to submit your claim. Provide them a list of the damages and any and all items that were stolen.
While you can do your best to prevent car theft, sometimes it happens. Comprehensive coverage can help offset the costs of any damages or replacements needed. You can get a quote with Excalibur Insurance today: