Talk to salespeople at virtually any automotive dealership in Canada, and they’re bound to tell you that passenger vehicles are selling like proverbial hot cakes, thanks in large measure to impressive incentives and low interest rates among those financing their vehicles.

But they’re also being stolen at a substantial clip, and thefts are taking place more frequently than they have in previous years, a newly released report discovered.

Auto theft rose over the past year throughout the country, new numbers from the Insurance Bureau of Canada confirm. Specifically, car heists increased 6 percent from 2015, making this the second straight 12-month period that auto thefts have climbed from the preceding year. Overall, just under 78,850 automobiles were reported stolen to the proper authorities, reversing what had been a decade-long trend of thefts on the decline.

Garry Robertson, director of IBC’s investigative services unit, noted that certain parts of the country saw more of this type of criminal activity than others, chief among them portions of the prairie provinces and parts of the Atlantic.

“The biggest increases were in Alberta where stolen vehicle numbers are up 32 percent and Prince Edward Island where they are up 19 percent,” Robertson explained.

Ford pickups highly sought-after
Just as thefts were more common in various parts of the country, so too were the types of vehicles that thieves made off with. For example, of the 10 most frequently stolen automobiles, the top five were all Ford pickup trucks, the report said. The Ford F-350 Super Duty four-wheel drive pickup occupied the first five spots on IBC’s most frequently stolen vehicles list – all different model years, ranging between 2003 and 2007 – and seven of the top 10.

“We see from this list that criminals continue to favor all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, older, high-end vehicles,” Robertson added.

Fords have been highly targeted for two straight years now, as back in 2015, 9 of the 10 most frequently filched were Ford F-350 pickups, according to IBC’ report filed this time last year. The only non-Ford was the Cadillac Escalade SUV, model year 2006. The luxury model was still in the 2016 list, but dropped from fourth to seventh.

Alberta and PEI weren’t the only provinces that saw increased theft activity this past year. So did Canada’s most-populated province, but Fords weren’t those most highly desired. That dubious distinction went to the Toyota 4Runner SUV, IBC reported. The four-door SUV with all-wheel drive occupied the top two positions on the list, model years 2015 and 2014, respectively. Rounding out the first five were the 2003 Hummer H2 SUV, 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe – which was tied with the 2003 GMC Yukon SUV – and the 2015 Lexus RX350 SUV.

Kim Donaldson, vice president for IBC’s Ontario division, noted that those who stole cars in the past year likely won’t be using them for pleasure purposes. If anything, they’ll probably wind up somewhere overseas, especially high-end models sold by luxury dealers.

Avoid silly mistakes
Donaldson further pointed out that while thieves are coming up with increasingly sophisticated ways of pilfering rightful owners’ property, it’s not unusual for criminals to pull the rug out beneath their victims, simply by following them as they drive, then making their move as soon as they park. The perpetrators are able to do this because motorists often make the mistake of leaving their keys in the ignition.

“It takes less than a minute for a car thief to steal your vehicle,” Donaldson advised. “If you’ve gone to the trouble of buying a car that has a theft deterrent system, don’t make it easy for thieves by leaving the keys in the car.”

Alarm systems not only provides peace of mind, but they may also help drivers save money on their car insurance policies, because they reduce the risk thieves will be successful in their attempts to make off which vehicles, then sold as-is or broken down in order to sell the parts on the black market.

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