Unattended vehicles are always a tempting target for thieves, especially this time of year, when cars can be loaded with Christmas shopping, which is often in plain sight and easily accessible.
People who are out holiday shopping at malls and stores often make several stops as they do so, and leave their purchases in their vehicles. You should avoid making multiple trips to your car to drop off purchases, as thieves might be watching. If you’re leaving items in your car, 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.
It should go without saying that you should lock your car, 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.
With cold weather here, it can be tempting to leave your car running with the keys in the ignition while you pop into a shop or business. Even if you think your vehicle is secure, unscrupulous thieves can often make away with it in the few minutes you’re away. This type of vehicle theft increases in cold weather, so resist the temptation. Many communities also have anti-idling bylaws which restrict the amount of time that you can leave your vehicle parked and running.
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.