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Lock It Up: Advice on How to Prevent Vehicle Theft 

By Briony Smith

Vehicle theft is on the rise in Alberta. In 2022, 20,725 motor vehicles were reported stolen in the province—a one-year increase of 16.6%. Sadly, becoming the victim of theft is a reality for more and more Albertans. The numbers are alarming: 57 vehicles are stolen and there are 95 thefts from vehicles every day across the province. Alberta has the second-highest rate of auto theft in Canada, and nearly one-quarter of all thefts from vehicles in Canada happen in Alberta.

“These aren’t just statistics,” says Dominic Schamuhn, AMA’s manager of advocacy. “It means that tens of thousands of Albertans are impacted by these crimes, and have to manage through the consequences.” There’s plenty you can do to keep your vehicle and belongings safe. Here, AMA has tips on how to prevent theft during the holidays—and year-round. 

Lock it or lose it  

Always, always lock your car. There are no excuses: even if the store isn’t far away or you’re only popping in for a minute; even if, perhaps, there aren’t many people around or you just want to warm up your car. Always remove the key or key fob, close all windows and lock all doors when leaving your vehicle unattended.  

Start the 9 p.m. routine  

Commit to making time for safety every day. “Every night, make sure you’ve removed your valuables from your vehicle, locked the doors and, if possible, parked in a locked garage,” Schamuhn says. If 9 p.m. doesn’t work for you, pick a time that does—it can be earlier or later—so you can stick to it, every day, until it’s a part of your nightly routine. The reality is that many crimes happen overnight, when we’re in our homes and thieves are on the lookout. 

Don’t leave personal documents in your vehicle  

Never store identification, insurance or registration documents in the vehicle, says Schamuhn. “Not only are they important documents for you to have on-hand, if they’re stolen they can be used to commit identity fraud and theft.” 

Add extra safety features to your vehicle  

Installing an alarm system or using a steering-wheel club can boost your protection even more. And if you want to get into a warm vehicle, don’t leave your keys in a running vehicle—purchase a remote starter. “It sometimes feels like the solutions are too simple to be effective, but using a club or purchasing a remote starter are meaningful ways to protect yourself,” Schamuhn says.  

Safeguard your gifts  

Remember, an item that might be deemed expensive makes it desirable. Simply removing your gifts and valuables can be a strong deterrent to thieves, who are often on the hunt for an easy target. And if you can’t remove them, put them in the trunk out of sight. “In our busy lives it can be easy to forget to remove all valuables from your vehicle,” Schamuhn says. “But the reality is it takes just a moment for a thief to strike, so don’t leave anything in sight of a thief.”