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May 25, 2021

Please don't steal my car!

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Insurance rates are up and so are the number of cars going missing each year.

The number one reason most vehicles are stolen is because they do not have an immobilizer, says the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Electronic immobilizers require a special key or small electronic device to start a vehicle’s engine. When someone tries to start your vehicle without this, the immobilizer shuts off the engine’s electrical system, making it virtually impossible to steal.

That’s why Manitoba, for instance, has been requiring owners of the vehicles it views most at risk to install such devices if they live in Winnipeg or commute to the city.

Most passenger vehicles and light trucks built in the last two years come equipped with an immobilizer, but these are generally two-point systems, which are far easier to defeat than more complicated three-point systems that engage starters, ignitions and often fuel pumps.

Other security devices, such as steering wheel locks, alarms, tracking systems and parts marking, can be combined with an immobilizer to provide additional layers of protection.

Steering wheel locks, like The Club, cost as little as $50 and provide a stronger visual deterrent for auto thieves than an immobilizer. Just the sight of an anti-theft device inside a car will put off many casual thieves, police say. Not that it deters the pros.

The Club Buster is intended for locksmiths, tow truck operators, and repo men, but any thief can buy it right now for $90.

Want to see things from that other side of the street? Have a look at these ‘dumber and dumber’ bait car videos.

A bait car is a decoy vehicle owned by the police that’s intended to be stolen. They’re generally models that have a high theft rate such as Ford F150s or Honda Civics.

The decoys are loaded with GPS tracking equipment, surveillance cameras and microphones. Inside the car, unlucky thieves are confronted with a device that allows police to remotely disable the vehicle.

What have you been doing to hang on to your car?



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...