Canadian Underwriter

IBC reveals the latest trends in auto theft

December 8, 2020   by Jason Contant

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Electronic auto theft, high-end vehicles stolen for shipment overseas, and street racing are three emerging trends coming out of Insurance Bureau of Canada’s (IBC) list of Top 10 stolen vehicles in 2020.

Electronic auto theft is on the rise across the country, as more vehicles are equipped with technology like keyless entry remotes, according to Bryan Gast, national director of investigative services with IBC. He told Canadian Underwriter Monday that auto thieves can use a wireless transmitter device to capture the signal between a key fob and vehicle and then use that information to unlock and steal a vehicle.

“One thing we are suggesting is key fob protective pouches or boxes,” he said. “You put your key fob there, as opposed to putting it in a bowl inside your front door where it’s susceptible to somebody intercepting that radio frequency. They can’t access that radio frequency to be able to steal that information from your key fob to be able to start your car. They’re not very much money and [this type of theft is] something that can be preventable.”

These relay attacks have been occurring more in Europe and not so much in North America, “but it is a trend we are starting to see now, which obviously is concerning,” Gast reported.

The second trend involves high-end vehicles that continue to be stolen for overseas export. “Some of them are being used by organized crime groups, shipped overseas… and given a new vehicle identification number and sold to unsuspecting consumers,” Gast said. “That’s nothing new, but it’s continuing.”

Some stolen vehicles are being used to commit other criminal offences, such as armed robberies, while others are being stripped for parts, netting the criminal a lot of money.

Another emerging trend, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is the rise of dangerous activities such as street racing and illegal gatherings for “drifting” events, IBC reported.

Drifting describes a driving technique in which the driver intentionally oversteers a car, and then countersteers to regain control of the car. Such racing events are providing a market for stolen small, speedy vehicles.

Gast used the example of Ontario’s Peel Regional Police, York Regional Police, and Ontario Provincial Police laying charges in Project Drift. This involved staged street races, drifting, stunting and other dangerous driving behaviours. These drivers would shut down parts of the highway and parking lots to having racing events.

“Some of these vehicles may be modified with stolen parts,” Gast noted. These racing events have been trending since March, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, largely because fewer cars are on the road because of social distancing policies and business shutdowns.

For IBC’s 2020 Top 10 stolen vehicles in Canada, the 2018 Honda CR-V (4DR AWD) SUV tops the list. And there are major differences across the country in which vehicles are stolen.

For example, in Alberta, Ford F-series and Dodge Ram trucks are the most popular vehicles to steal. “These trucks are attractive to thieves, and oil and gas companies have used them almost exclusively, which has brought a disproportionately high amount of them to the province,” IBC said in the release. “In addition, the 2007 and earlier models were easy to steal because many did not have theft-deterrent devices installed.”

In Ontario, Lexus and Honda vehicles dominate the list. Some were stolen for export by organized crime groups, while others have been identified in street racing rings. In Project Seagull in Hamilton, high-end vehicles were being stolen and “chopped” for parts that thieves sold on the black market.

In Atlantic Canada, the Chevrolet Silverado is the most-stolen vehicle. Typically, vehicles like this are targets for export to foreign countries, IBC reported.

“Even if your vehicle isn’t one of the ones on the Top 10 list, all vehicles can be stolen and everybody should take the same precautions,” Gast said.

Here is IBC’s 2020 list of Top 10 stolen vehicles in Canada:

Source: Insurance Bureau of Canada


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2 Comments » for IBC reveals the latest trends in auto theft
  1. WVK says:

    Re: Electronic auto theft
    Your article, other than merely reporting statistics does not educate nor help the insureds. You have shifted the burden of a criminal activity on the owner alone and not on the manufacturers who, under product liability, are selling a defective product when in fact the technology exists to prevent the criminal activity.

    It is not a surprise that Toyota/Lexus make up 50% of the top 10 stolen vehicles, followed by Honda. Their Electronic Security System is poor. Two of my neighbours had their luxury Lexus SUVs stolen from their driveways in the past few months. Buyers-owners do not think about the compromised quality of security that these manufacturers offer as long as there is insurance to replace their stolen vehicles.
    In a sinister way, Toyota/Lexus benefits from the stolen vehicles criminal activities as a stolen vehicle equals another unsolicited vehicle sale and more revenue for Toyota/Lexus.

    The insurance industry in Canada is also a culprit by not using the available data in educating and influencing the manufacturers of vehicles with unacceptable/poor electronic security systems. In UK, a number of European manufacturers offer a key fob that stops communicating with the car’s key system once the key fob has not moved for several minutes. This eliminates the need for a faraday bag that you are referring to, reduces the criminal activity and Premiums Stay Low!!

    • Eric says:

      The best glass salesman is not one who is knowledgeable in product nor expertly trained in sales skills. The best is the one who is willing to hire someone to go around the neighbourhood breaking everyone’s windows.

      Coincidentally, the best pharmaceutical salesman is also not one who makes great vaccines.

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