Tips for Preventing High-end Vehicle Theft
As car thieves become increasingly sophisticated and tech-savvy, it’s more important than ever to take the necessary steps to ensure your car is secure and less likely to be targeted. A growing number of high-end cars equipped with keyless entry and push-start technology are disappearing from residential driveways in a matter of seconds.
“It’s unfortunate that as technology evolves, so do criminals,” says Rick Wirkowski, Travelers Canada’s Vice President, National Product Development & Support, Personal Insurance. “This increase in auto theft seems to be run by sophisticated, organized crime rings that are exploiting luxury-vehicle technology. While we’re pleased that the authorities are making arrests, we encourage brokers and customers to take steps to mitigate such losses, especially during vacation or holiday seasons, when people are more likely to be away from home, leaving their car in driveways.”
Electronic Theft Methods
Recent Travelers Canada Claim data supports what other industry agencies, insurers and law enforcement are reporting, says Ian White, Lead Investigator, Travelers Investigative Services (TIS), who also serves on Ontario’s Insurance Lead Investigator Group. “The increase in this type of theft seems to be affecting insurers across the board,” he says, adding that there are two methods thieves use in electronic thefts:
Relay Theft - Thieves use technology called a ‘relay device’ to find the signal of the car’s key fob kept inside the residence. The signal is amplified, which enables the thieves to unlock, start and steal the vehicle, even though the owner still has the key fob in their possession or inside their house. This theft can happen in mere seconds.
Reprogramming Theft - Thieves gain entry to the vehicle by mechanical means (breaking in with tools), then access the vehicle’s diagnostic port and reprogram a blank key fob, which enables them to start and steal the vehicle – within 15 minutes.
Risk Mitigation Tips
Wirkowski and White offer the following tips to help your customers prevent a loss:
- Park vehicles in a locked garage.
- If parked outside, ensure the driveway is well lit.
- Keep vehicles locked at all times.
- Don’t keep key fobs near the front door/garage (thieves can access the signal by standing near the door).
- Keep key fobs in a metal bag/box to block the signal.
- Use an aftermarket steering wheel lock device (like a club) to help deter theft.
- Install an aftermarket alarm that alerts you when the car door is opened.
- Install an aftermarket GPS system that can’t be easily detected/blocked by a GPS-signal-blocker.
“From an investigative point of view, it’s also advisable to install good security cameras around driveways. These may not prevent theft but can potentially capture a suspect’s face or help capture a complicit car’s number plates,” advises White. “The more we can help mitigate loss and avoid claims in the first place, the better,” he concludes.