If you’re in the market for one of these vehicles, you might want to budget for an aftermarket security system.
The Honda CR-V was the most stolen vehicle in 2022, according to an annual report from Équité Association, a not-for-profit organization that investigates insurance crime. Newer model Dodge RAM 1500 and Ford F150 trucks were the second and third most stolen vehicles last year.
Car theft across the country reached “historic highs” last year, and Canada has become a recognized source country in the international illegal vehicle trade, according to Équité Association.
“The auto theft problem in our country is only getting worse,” Bryan Gast, VP, Investigative Services at Équité Association, said in a news release. “Organized crime continues to look to Canada as a source nation for stolen vehicles where the financial reward is high and the risk of prosecution is low.”
Nine of the most stolen vehicles last year were models from 2019 or newer, which says a lot about why these particular trucks and SUVs are being targeted, Sid Kingma, director of Équité Association's investigative services in Western Canada.
“What it really speaks to is the purpose of those thefts, they’re being stolen because there is a demand in the market for them. They're being stolen for export, or they're being stolen and given a new identity within Canada and sold domestically to unsuspecting buyers,” Kingma said.
As the largest markets for stolen vehicles are overseas, regions closer to ports like Ontario and Quebec have seen the biggest rise in thefts this year. Thieves are also increasingly looking to maximize their profit by swapping out the original VIN number and selling stolen vehicles in Canada.
Some thieves have a sophisticated array of techniques to bypass security measures, and Équité Association is calling for Transport Canada to modernize the minimum security standards for vehicle manufacturers. These set requirements for every new vehicle that rolls off the line, and were last updated in 2007, before push-starts and other features were common.
“Canadians expect to see a collaborative approach to combating this urgent and continuing national auto theft crisis,” Terri O’Brien, President & CEO of Équité Association, said in a news release.
“This problem will not be fixed in isolation; we need meaningful change and collaborative solutions adopted by auto manufacturers, all levels of government, and law enforcement.”
Theft prevention doesn’t need to be elaborate, however. Simple things like parking off the street or ensuring that your doors are locked go a long way in thwarting even organized criminals, Kingma said.
Although the 2020 Land Rover Range Rovers comes in eighth on the list, a whopping 3.9 per cent of these SUVs insured in Canada were stolen, giving it the highest theft frequency of any vehicle. Edmonton experienced a rash of Land Rover thefts earlier this year, and Kingma said the group responsible was particularly targeting unlocked vehicles.
“When you lock your Land Rover the side mirrors fold in. If it's unlocked, the mirrors are out. And that particular group was looking for unlocked Land Rovers because then they had easier access to what they needed to do to steal the actual vehicle,” he said.
Topping the list of the least stolen vehicles was the Chevrolet Volt, with only one of the sedans being stolen last year. Along with the Volt, there are several hybrids on the list of vehicles avoided by thieves, largely because there is no market for them in the regions where stolen Canadian SUVs and trucks often turn up.
“For EVs, your infrastructure is much different to be able to charge and drive those vehicles,” Kingma said.
“The markets that gas engine and diesel engine vehicles are being stolen and exported to – whether that's Africa whether it's the Middle East – that infrastructure is not there yet. I think there's less demand because of that lack of infrastructure.”
Some of the hybrids and electric vehicles come factory-equipped with security features like motion-activated cameras that record 24/7 and are backed up in cloud storage, which is also a strong deterrent, Kingma said.