Preventing auto crime
Auto crime is a persistent threat in B.C.; help protect your vehicle by identifying risks and taking away opportunities for thieves.
According to police data, 46,600 vehicles were broken into and 7,500 were stolen in 2020. Any valuables left in the open can make your vehicle an appealing target. Help do your part to deter thieves and learn how ICBC is working with communities to fight auto-theft.
Thieves look for opportunities
Older vehicles are easier targets
Older vehicles tend to have weaker door locks and fewer modern security measures such as electronic engine immobilizers. If your vehicle was manufactured prior to 2007, you may want to use a steering-wheel lock to better secure your vehicle.
All cars, vans, light trucks and SUVs built after September 1, 2007 are required to have anti-theft engine immobilizers.
Most stolen items from vehicles
Remember that what's in your vehicle is also at risk. According to police reports, these items are the most popular:
Personal electronics—tablets, laptops, iPods, GPS
Credit cards and identification
Cash and change
Car parts and accessories
Garage door openers
Don’t give thieves a chance:
Treat your keys like cash. Never leave your keys unguarded, such as at the gym or at the office.
Park in secure, well-lit areas. Always lock your doors and close the windows, even if you’re only away from your vehicle for a few minutes. When possible, try to park in areas near pedestrian traffic.
Remove valuables from your vehicle. Shopping bags, tools, spare change, electronics, and brief cases can all tempt a thief. If it can be stolen, put it in the trunk.
Wait for garage door gates to close behind you. Don't give thieves a chance to sneak in to a parkade.
Keep your garage door opener out of sight. Store your garage door remote in a glove box or other concealed place, or take it with you.
Use an electronic engine immobilizer or steering wheel lock. Additional anti-theft devices can help secure your vehicle, particularly if it was manufactured before 2007.
Don’t store a spare key in your vehicle. Keep your spare key or valet at home or on your person.
Use anti-theft devices
Electronic immobilizers are anti-theft devices that cut off power to a vehicle’s fuel, starter, or ignition system when not in use. If your vehicle is equipped with a passive electronic immobilizer, you may be eligible for discounts and savings.
Vehicle alarms will draw attention to would-be thieves with sirens, beeps and other loud noises. Some systems will also trigger flashing lights.
Steering wheel locks are good visual deterrents. However, they may not be enough protection if your vehicle has a moderate to high risk of being stolen.
Catalytic converter thefts
Catalytic converter thefts have increased significantly in B.C. and throughout North America in recent years. Catalytic converters are devices on vehicle exhaust systems that control emissions from fuel-powered and hybrid vehicles. They contain precious metals that attract thieves when the value of those metals rise.
SUVs and trucks are more frequently targeted by thieves as they’re higher off the ground than other vehicles so they’re easier for thieves to slide under and use a saw or wrench to remove a catalytic converter within minutes.
Catalytic converter thefts are covered under ICBC’s Comprehensive insurance. If your catalytic converter is stolen, report it to the police and make a claim with ICBC.
Tips to reduce the risk of catalytic converter theft
Park in a secure garage, underground or behind a locked fence. If that’s not possible, park in a well-lit and populated area.
Park close to a wall or barrier if possible to make it more difficult for a thief to get under your vehicle.
Consider engraving your vehicle’s identification number (VIN) to the catalytic converter to make it easier to identify stolen converters. Ask a local mechanic if they’re able to engrave your converter.
Install anti-theft devices such as a catalytic converter lock or shield.
Motion-sensitive dashboard cameras can help police apprehend the thief.
Adjust the security system on your vehicle to activate from vibrations such as those produced by a saw, if possible.
Consider installing theft prevention measures around your property as needed. For example, motion-activated lighting, security cameras or landscaping to provide a clear view of your vehicle. Business owners should secure their vehicles behind locked fences.
Report all catalytic converter thefts (or attempted thefts) and suspicious activity to police as soon as possible.
What ICBC’s doing
ICBC invests in auto crime prevention programs because less crime benefits everyone and helps keep rates as low as possible. We provide support to police enforcement activities in the province, such as IMPACT and the Bait Car program, as well as a variety of community prevention efforts.
IMPACT (Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team)
ICBC supports IMPACT, an auto crime enforcement team that operates year-round and is comprised of specialized auto theft investigators. IMPACT engages in a wide variety of auto crime enforcement activities and is continually developing innovative strategies to reduce auto crime in B.C.
The Bait Car program
The Bait Car program is an enforcement strategy maintained by IMPACT in order to deter and capture auto thieves. Using live-feed and GPS technology, police monitor thieves’ activities in real-time and apprehend those that engage in criminal activity. Police also equip these vehicles with Bait Property (such as laptops or gym bags) which can be tracked if stolen from the vehicle.
The program also includes Bait Trailers and Commercial Bait Vehicles to help police combat the theft of these vehicles and their contents.
Be advised: video footage captured by Baitcar technology of auto crime in progress contains strong language
ICBC partners with local police in communities that are seeing spikes in auto crime. When able, we help to fund steering wheel locks that police distribute to owners of older model vehicles being targeted by thieves.
We also invest in community-based education and prevention activities led by local groups and volunteers, such as the Lock Out Auto Crime and Stolen Auto Recovery programs.