Don’t let an auto theft Grinch spoil the holiday season

The number one cause of auto theft in Manitoba is the use of vehicle keys. Last year in Manitoba, more than 3,100 vehicles were stolen ─ 90 per cent involving the use of keys.

With the arrival of winter weather, Manitoba Public Insurance urges all vehicle owners to avoid running vehicles unattended – whether to warm up or while dropping off holiday packages – unless equipped with a secure remote starting system.

Of all the vehicle thefts reported using vehicle keys last year, nearly 50 per cent involved keys left in the vehicle ignition or stowed somewhere else within the passenger compartment, according to Manitoba Public Insurance data. In other cases, vehicle keys were taken from homes or from purses and coats left in public places.

“Nearly all vehicles in Manitoba are now protected from theft with aftermarket or factory-installed electronic vehicle immobilizers,” said Satvir Jatana, vice-president responsible for Communications, Manitoba Public Insurance. “While these devices prevent a vehicle’s ignition from being defeated, they are rendered completely ineffective when auto thieves have access to vehicle keys or key fobs. This is why it is so important for vehicle owners to safeguard their vehicle keys at all times.”

Vehicle thefts last year cost Manitoba ratepayers about $17 million. Stolen vehicles are also used in the commission of other criminal offences and represent a significant public safety risk when driven erratically or at high speeds, often through residential neighbourhoods.

Holiday shoppers are also reminded to never leave shopping bags and other valuables in plain view when a vehicle is left unattended. Doing so can result in vehicle break-ins and create unnecessary stress over the holiday season. Valuables should always be removed from unattended vehicles or securely locked in the trunk or cargo area out of plain view.

How to protect your vehicle from theft

  • Never leave your vehicle running when unattended.
  • Never leave your vehicle keys unattended.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • When parking your car, always close the windows and lock the doors.
  • Put valuables and packages in the trunk, where they’re out of sight.
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