With auto theft on the rise in Ontario, you might be wondering how much of a target your vehicle is.
Équité Association, an organization that works to eradicate crime on behalf of the Canadian property and casualty insurance industry, has released a list of the top 10 most stolen vehicles in the province this last year.
Topping the list are the Honda CR-V, which was also the most commonly stolen vehicle in the country, the Lexus RX Series and the Dodge RAM 1500 Series.
The organization says auto theft increased by 48 per cent in Ontario and by 50 per cent in Quebec in 2022 compared to the year before, which it said were “historical highs.” The numbers have put Canada in the spotlight as a “source country for illegal trade,” the organization said in a news release.
“Vehicles are being stolen by both domestic and international criminal organizations, with proceeds funding domestic drug trafficking, and international terrorism,” it added.
On Tuesday, the organization released lists of the 10 most stolen vehicles and 10 least stolen vehicles in Canada in 2022, with regional breakdowns.
Here are the top 10 most stolen vehicles in Ontario:
Bryan Gast, vice president of investigative services at Équité Association, said in an interview that organized crime groups tend to target vehicles that are in high demand in other parts of the world.
“It’s an interesting list. It’s basically the vehicles that are being targeted by organized crime groups that really dominate the top 10 — SUVs and pickup trucks, newer models, big vehicles,” he said.
“When these criminals are looking for vehicles, they know exactly the brands that they want.”
As for the CR-V, he said, it’s likely a target because of how many of them there are on the road and how serviceable they are globally.
‘Canada as a source nation for stolen vehicles’
In a news release on Tuesday, Gast said the auto theft problem in Ontario and the rest of Canada is only getting worse.
“Organized crime continues to look to Canada as a source nation for stolen vehicles where the financial reward is high and the risk of prosecution is low,” he said.
The least stolen vehicles in Ontario in 2022 are, ranking by number of thefts:
- Cadillac XTS.
- Fiat 500.
- Ford/Lincoln Escape/Corsair.
- Buick Verano.
- Chevrolet Impala.
- Buick/Chevrolet Enclave/Traverse.
- Toyota Yaris.
- Volvo XC60.
- Nissan Micra Hatchback.
- Hyundai Kona.
The least stolen vehicles in Canada in 2022 are, ranking by number of thefts:
- Chevrolet Volt.
- Kia Niro 5DR.
- Cadillac XT5.
- Buick Envision.
- Mini Cooper Countryman.
- Volvo XC90.
- Volkswagen Beetle.
- Chevrolet Corvette.
- Hyundai Ioniq.
- Mazda Mazda2.
According to the organization, nine of the most popular model years stolen in Canada are 2019 or newer because criminals are trying to maximize their profits by selling the vehicle overseas or altering the vehicle registration numbers to sell to “unsuspecting” buyers in Canada. Altering the number to a fraudulent one is a process known as re-vinning.
Terri O’Brien, president and CEO of Équité Association, said in the release that the organization provides information on auto theft to curb rising trends and to keep Canadians safe from the impact of organized crime.
“Canadians expect to see a collaborative approach to combatting this urgent and continuing national auto theft crisis,” O’Brien said. “This problem will not be fixed in isolation; we need meaningful change and collaborative solutions adopted by auto manufacturers, all levels of government, and law enforcement.”
Auto theft significant issue in Toronto, police say
Stephanie Sayer, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said in an email on Tuesday that the number of auto thefts in Toronto has increased dramatically in the last several years, more than doubling since 2019 and making vehicle thefts a significant issue in the city and across the GTA.
“Thieves are stealing vehicles, and are then using those vehicles to carry out other violent crimes, or are shipping them overseas, where they are resold, or re-vinned and sold domestically,” Sayer said.
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Sayer said 10,407 vehicles have been reported stolen in Toronto in 2023 as of Nov. 13. That’s compared to 8,184 vehicles reported stolen during the same time period in 2022.
“Around the clock, we have investigators aggressively working to address auto thefts in the city. This issue is very complex because the demand for stolen cars is very high, and the criminals are very motivated,” Sayer said.
How can vehicle owners protect themselves?
Gast said he recommends that vehicle owners make it more difficult for thieves to steal their vehicles. He said it’s important to remember that thieves want to steal vehicles quickly, and anything that will take more time will act as a deterrent.
“We’re working to get the vehicles harder to steal in the first place with the manufacturers,” he said.
Until that happens, the organization recommends a “layered” approach.
Gast says thieves can get into cars by intercepting the locking signal sent from the key fob, which can take less than 30 seconds, or by manually breaking in and plugging into the car’s diagnostic port to reprogram the key fob and start the vehicle.
Having multiple layers of protection can include using a steering wheel or diagnostic port lock, parking your car in a garage or a well-lit area, or using aftermarket tracking services or devices and flagging any suspicious activity to law enforcement.
- If you have a garage, park in it and lock the doors.
- Consider buying a steering wheel lock, such as The Club, which is difficult to remove and acts as a visual deterrent.
- Consider installing a vehicle tracking system that uses GPS technology.
- Have an ignition kill switch installed, which will prevent your vehicle from starting without it being turned on.
- Have your vehicle’s windows etched with your vehicle identification number — it’s another visual deterrent that is costly for thieves to remove.