I received this email from TD Insurance Canada here are some tips on how to prevent car theft.

Some 159,000 cars were stolen in Canada in 2006 alone, according to Statistics Canada. But there's more to that number than just thousands of empty-handed owners. In fact, you've paid a price for the crime too.

"The overall cost of car theft to Canadians is a whopping $1.2 billion," says Rick Dubin, vice president, investigative services, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). That price includes paying for police involvement, ambulance and court costs. "On average, Canadians pay an extra $40 on their auto insurance premiums for car theft."

Auto theft can also be an aggressive and even violent crime. "Between 1999 and 2001, car theft resulted in 81 deaths and 127 serious injuries to Canadians," Mr. Dubin says, quoting figures from The National Committee to Reduce Auto Theft. "And, today, we know that organized crime rings are highly involved in this criminal act."
Theft prevention tips for today's driver

More than ever, you need to get serious about safeguarding your car. Here are the IBC's top tips to keep your car more secure.

  • Get an electronic immobilizer. If your car is a 2007 or newer model, chances are it is equipped with an immobilizer. If you don't have one, "investing in an aftermarket immobilizer is a good idea because they make your car more difficult to steal; unless, of course, a thief has managed to steal your keys," Mr. Dubin continues. Just make sure it meets national standards.
  • Never leave your unattended car running. That includes in your driveway, garage or on the street in front of your home. On a cold winter morning, you may be tempted to leave your car to warm up before heading to work, "but this is a common time when thieves simply drive away with your vehicle," says Mr. Dubin. A remote starter warms up your car without you leaving the keys in it. It also cools down you car in the summer by running the AC.
  • Always lock doors and windows. Our expert advises you to get into the habit of locking up, "even if you’re leaving your car in the garage overnight."
  • Don't leave your keys in the ignition. This may sound obvious, but according to the IBC, one in five cars is stolen this way. As for a spare key, the first place a thief will look is in the car itself — even under it. Leave it with someone you trust, instead.
  • Protect your keys — even at home. "Keep your keys hidden," says our investigative expert. "Thieves will even break into your home to steal your keys so don't leave them in open view as in a kitchen or hallway."
  • Don't leave valuables in your car. "You are being watched by thieves," cautions Mr. Dubin. "Thinking your purse, wallet or laptop are safe in a locked trunk just isn't the case anymore."
  • Park smart. "If you're at the mall or leaving your car in a lot while you take the train or public transit to work, choose a parking spot that is well lit and busy."
  • Report insurance crime to 1-877-IBC-TIPS. "If you suspect someone of insurance crime, call the IBC's hotline," Mr. Dubin advises. All tips are treated in a confidential manner.

If your car is stolen

If your car is stolen, your first call should be to the police, and then take steps to report the loss to your insurer. "You’ll want to call your insurance company as soon as possible so that facts are still fresh in your mind," says Mr. Dubin. "It’s a good idea to have a list of the contents of your car ready, since personal items are often covered under your homeowner's policy."

Did your car make the IBC top ten?

Every year, the Insurance Bureau of Canada releases a list of the top ten most frequently stolen cars in Canada. You may be surprised to learn that new and luxury cars don't usually make the list since many are equipped with electronic immobilizers. Thieves find value even in older models.

Here is the list for 2007:

1. 1999 Honda Civic SiR 2-door
2. 2000 Honda Civic SiR 2-door
3. 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX/WRX STi 4-door AWD
4. 1999 Acura Integra 2-door
5. 1994 Dodge/Plymouth Grand Caravan/Voyager
6. 1994 Dodge/Plymouth Grand Caravan/Voyager AWD
7. 1994 Dodge/Plymouth Caravan/Voyager
8. 1998 Acura Integra 2-door
9. 2000 Audi TT Quattro 2-door Coupe
10. 1994 Dodge/Plymouth Shadow/Sundance 2-door Hatchback

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