Unattended vehicles are always a tempting target for thieves, especially this time of year. People are out holiday shopping at malls and stores, often making several stops as they do so, and leaving their purchases in their vehicles. About 10,000 vehicle break-ins were reported across the province in 2016 (640 of them in the Southern Interior); but ICBC wants to remind drivers that they can prevent auto crime from happening over the holidays by keeping their vehicle free of all valuables, not just holiday parcels.
Avoid making multiple trips to your car to drop off purchases, as thieves might be watching. Store them where they can’t be seen from outside the vehicle; advice which goes for anything valuable inside your car, such as electronic devices (including smartphones, laptops, tablets, GPS units, satellite radios, and dash cams). You may think nothing of leaving a pair of sunglasses visible in your car, but they can be worth up to $200. Even leaving some loose change in plain sight can tempt a thief.
Lock your car. It may seem obvious, but police report that nearly 50 per cent of thefts from vehicles involve unlocked cars. Many thefts from cars are crimes of opportunity; if a car is locked, all but the most determined thieves will probably move on to an easier target. And treat your car keys like cash: never leave them unattended in a public place.
Drivers should also take care not to leave valuables in their car when it’s parked at home; wallets, work tools, credit cards, keys and fobs, and electronic devices are among the items commonly taken. If your vehicle is parked outside your house, remove the garage door opener, so thieves cannot use it to gain access to your home.
Drivers should be aware that the contents of their vehicle are not covered by insurance. However, if a vehicle has been damaged as a result of theft, ICBC customers who have Comprehensive or Specified Perils coverage can file a claim. The average cost of a vehicle break-in claim is approximately $1,200.