Sixty-two vehicles are stolen in Alberta every day. That’s three times the national average. AMA’s recent “Lock It or Lose It” campaign urged motorists to lock their vehicles, hide their valuables and take their keys with them—to better guard against auto theft and vehicle break-ins. But even if nothing is visible in your vehicle, its hidden contents could still be a target for thieves. Take the glove compartment, for instance. Many people still keep their vehicle registration and proof of insurance in this passenger-side cubbyhole, even though it’s probably the first place thieves look after they smash your window or jimmy your lock.
In fact, 77 per cent of AMA members surveyed said they stored these documents in their vehicle, and we’re guessing the glove compartment was the most likely storage spot. That’s ill-advised—considering that your registration and insurance papers contain your name, address and other identifying information, which thieves can use to commit identity fraud.
So where should these documents go? You’ll need to have them handy if you’re ever in a collision or get pulled over by local law enforcement. AMA Insurance says your wallet or purse is the best option, since you probably never leave home without it.
There are a few more papers that shouldn’t be in stored in the glove compartment (or, for that matter, anywhere in your vehicle). Those include: your vehicle’s bill of sale, which could be used to create fraudulent documents to help sell stolen cars; maintenance invoices; bills you’re planning to pay. Really, anything that lists your home address should not remain in your vehicle. Think about it: If your car isn’t parked at home, it could mean that your house is currently vacant, so thieves may have an opportunity to target your home. And if you have a garage door opener in the vehicle, you might as well be rolling out the welcome mat.
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That’s not to say you can’t put anything in your glove compartment. It’s there for a reason; just use it wisely. Here are some things that could go in your glove compartment:
• Owner’s manual
• Phone charger
• Paper maps
• Pen or pencil and paper
• Sunglasses and/or spare eyeglasses
• Mini first-aid kit
• High-energy snacks
• Tire pressure gauge
Still not convinced that you need to reevaluate what’s in your glove compartment? Here’s another reason: Personal items stolen from vehicles are not covered by your auto insurance. That policy covers the vehicle and its permanent, pre-installed parts; the stolen contents have to be claimed separately against your home insurance. So if someone damages your car breaking in and steals your stuff, the claim can affect both your home and your auto insurance. Isn’t that more cumbersome than taking a few simple precautions in the first place?
Learn more about AMA’s Lock It or Lose It campaign by clicking here.