Organized crime groups targeting vehicles in Canada
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) recently revealed its list of the top 10 stolen vehicles across Canada, and, thanks to the pandemic, there were a few notable trends that drivers – and their brokers – should be aware of for 2021.
“Street racing seems to be a trend that’s growing with some of the smaller vehicles, and one of the concerns is that some of the parts from stolen vehicles or the cars themselves are being utilized in these events … though to what degree stolen vehicles and parts are involved is yet to be determined,” said Bryan Gast, IBC’s national director of investigative services, adding that there’s a significant risk to drivers when these incidents take place. “[Street racing events have] shut down the 400-series highways … and that’s a public safety issue when they’re driving at such dangerous speeds, so that is definitely one of the trends that we’re seeing.”
Another notable trend that IBC has noticed over recent months has been electronic override theft relay attacks, which have typically has been more prevalent in Europe, but now appear to be making their way to North America, noted Gast. He explained that the attacks typically involve organized crime groups that target higher end vehicles and ship them overseas, and then sell these vehicles for a premium to their clientele.
IBC has partnerships with law enforcement, car manufacturers, and the Canada Border Services Agency, trying to work together to recover stolen vehicles, identify the organized crime groups behind some of these thefts, and determine some of the methods that bad actors are using to conduct these thefts.
Some of the ways that drivers can protect themselves from theft include parking in a well-lit area and using pouches to store key fobs, as opposed to leaving them exposed to criminals that may have the right device to be able to capture the fob’s signal. Placing keys in a protective box or pouch prevents the radio frequencies from being triggered and transmitting to bad actors’ devices.
Additionally, even as the cold weather persists, drivers should not leave their vehicles running or keep their key fobs stored in their vehicles, as a lot of thefts are occurring in this way. To take risk management to the next level, drivers can use warning devices, audible alarms, brake locks, kill switches, fuse cut-offs, and wheel locks – anything that makes it clear to a potential thief walking by that the vehicle may be too tough to steal.
“That’s one of the important things of the top 10 list, is to remind consumers [about] the risks of auto theft and what they can do to minimize the risk of the vehicle being stolen,” said Gast, cautioning that just because a vehicle may not appear o IBC’s list, doesn’t mean it’s safe from the risk of theft.
He also told Insurance Business that brokers can help distribute this important information to their clients.
“Not everybody’s going to read the media, not everybody’s going to be aware of some of these risks that they have,” Gast said. “The more people that become aware of these preventative measures, the better.”