Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) released its annual list of the top 10 most frequently stolen vehicles in Canada. This year there is a new, but returning, hot target for thieves: the 2000 Honda Civic SiR 2DR. In fact Civics take up the top two places in this year's list. Civics have always been high on the list. It's a popular vehicle for young people and many of them are stolen and chopped for parts.
The Civic replaces the 2009 Toyota Venza 4-door, which was last year's number-one most frequently stolen vehicle nationally but is the second most stolen vehicle in Quebec. But more than the change of the top target, investigators are seeing new trends and have more warnings for unsuspecting victims.
The top 10 most frequently stolen vehicles in Canada are:
1. 2000 HONDA CIVIC SiR 2DR
2. 1999 HONDA CIVIC SiR 2DR
3. 2006 CHEVROLET TRAILBLAZER SS 4DR 4WD
4. 2007 FORD F350 SD 4WD PU
5. 2005 CADILLAC ESCALADE 4DR AWD
6. 2006 FORD F350 SD 4WD PU
7. 2002 CADILLAC ESCALADE 4DR 4WD
8. 2005 FORD F350 SD 4WD PU
9. 2004 FORD F350 SD 4WD PU
10. 1999 ACURA INTEGRA 2DR
Seven of the top 10 are four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicles, including four Ford F350 trucks.
“We are never surprised to see a lot of all-terrain vehicles on the list,” says Rick Dubin, vice-president, investigative services, IBC. “Many of these higher-end vehicles are targeted by organized crime for shipment overseas – to places like West Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, where there is a lucrative market for big, rugged vehicles.”
He adds: “A new trend this year, however, is that Alberta seems to be emerging as a secondary market for these vehicles. IBC investigations indicate that many of the Ford trucks are being re-VINed to be sold to unsuspecting victims in Western Canada. Organized crime rings are stealing the trucks in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, changing the vehicle identification numbers (VIN), and selling them in Alberta, where there is a high demand for them.”
Auto theft is big business in Canada. The good news is that in 2011 the number of stolen vehicles in the country was down 12%, to 82,411. The bad news is that recovery rates for stolen vehicles have been low, which indicates the involvement of organized criminals, who re-VIN cars for re-sale, or chop them for parts. This is a “Buyer Beware” situation where stolen vehicles and parts are sold over the Internet for prices that seem to be too good to be true.
“We’re fighting these sophisticated crime rings on several fronts,” says Dubin. “IBC works with Canada Border Services Agency to stop stolen vehicles at the ports in Montreal and Halifax before they are exported. Since 2009, over $44 million worth of stolen vehicles intended for export have been seized as a result of this partnership.”
IBC is also encouraged that lawmakers are taking the issue of auto theft much more seriously. Case in point is the recent passage of the Federal Safe Streets and Communities Act, which added auto theft as one of the crimes for which house arrest would no longer be offered to convicted auto thieves.
“When IBC supported Bill S-9 (Auto Theft and Trafficking in Property Obtained by Crime Act), we stressed that auto theft should be considered a serious and violent crime,” says Dubin. “Stealing a car is not the same as stealing a TV. Innocent Canadians and law enforcement officers are killed or seriously injured each year as a result of auto theft. Just last week a suspected auto theft resulted in the injury of a pedestrian as well as a threat to police officers in Toronto.”