Take steps to thwart car thieves

By Doug Sullivan TADA President | Source: Toronto Star

In April, the Toronto Star published a story about how car thieves have been targeting posh neighborhoods and high-end vehicles.

One thing that struck me about the article is how thieves are targeting vehicles with the latest, high-tech security systems. They’re using sophisticated technology to gain access to electronic devices that can bypass a vehicle’s security system.

Although thieves are becoming more adept at figuring out ways to steal automobiles, the general trend in police-reported motor theft has been declining for the past decade.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2013, motor vehicle theft fell by eight per cent over 2012. Since 2003, motor vehicle theft has declined by 62 per cent across Canada.

Despite this encouraging trend, vehicle owners still need to be proactive to deter auto theft and protect their property. Having your car stolen is an inconvenience in terms of wasted time, dealing with insurance and finding a replacement vehicle.

The other negative impact of auto theft is that it contributes to high insurance rates, for all drivers. Ontario has the highest insurance premiums in Canada.

Whether your vehicle is parked at a condo in Toronto, in a driveway in Timmins or at a shopping centre in Sudbury, no vehicle is immune from being targeted by would-be thieves.

Yes, there are far more vehicle thefts in urban centers than in rural areas and, yes, thieves often target specific models based on their re-sale value on the black market, but no one single make or model is averse to theft.

The best that car owners can do is to take reasonable precautions and use common sense. Not leaving your car running while unattended (in your driveway or at a corner store) would qualify as common sense, and yet people do this all the time.

Based on my experiences and input from industry experts, here are some suggestions to help protect your vehicles and to minimize the risk of car theft.

— Place your key fob in a closed metallic box or in your fridge freezer, which reduces the chance that a thief could override your key’s coded signal.

— Don’t leave registration documents that contain a key code in your glove compartment. Your personal information can be stolen and used for identity theft.

— Remove valet keys from the glove compartments of your vehicles. Sometimes owners will forget that these keys are often in the manual wallet.

— Consider installing security etching, which permanently marks each window of your vehicle with an identification number. This type of deterrent makes it more difficult for thieves to re-sell a vehicle because all of the windows have to be replaced.

— Put valuables out of sight when your car is unattended. Shopping bags, purses and sports gear make easy targets if they are visible.

— Park near similar types of vehicles as yours. Thieves are often looking to fill “steal to order” models, and if several vehicles within close proximity fit that description, odds are reduced that your vehicle will be targeted.

— Keep your car keys in a secure place; don’t hang them on keyboards in the home and make sure they’re not visible through windows.

— Always lock your doors and close your windows when your car is unattended.

— Park your vehicle in well-lit and well-travelled areas.

This column represents the views of TADA. Email president@tada.ca or visittada.ca. Doug Sullivan, president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, is a new-car dealer in Huntsville, Ont.

Every driver — even really good ones — can have a bad day on the road.

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Car Owner Reunited With Her “First Love” 43 Years After Corvette Stingray Was Stolen

By  | Consumerist

In a rare, heartwarming tale of the return of a valued possession once thought to be lost forever, the owner of a 1972 Corvette Stingray that was stolen 43 years ago was finally reunited with her “first love.” And she is not going to let it out of her sight ever again.

The Duluth, GA resident bought the car when she was 19 using money from her first job toward a down payment and owned it for just six months, according to a statement from Allstate, which had paid out a claim on the car decades ago after it was stolen while she was at work.

The insurer worked with the used-car dealer who realized there was something funny about the car’s title and government officials to reunite the owner with what she calls her “first love.”

“That car, I hope, will never leave my sight again,” she told Bloomberg. “It needs a lot of love and attention. I want to restore that car, I want to bring it back to life.”

The car dealer said he bought it from a widow in 2014 for $10,000, and noticed something was suspicious while going through the documents that came with the car.

“It wasn’t a convertible, but the title had ‘CN,’ like a convertible should have,” he told Bloomberg. “And then, I looked at the year model on the title, and it said 1969. Well, that body had not been modified at all, and that was a ’72 model car.”

He called the authorities, who traced the car’s ownership back to Allstate. Although in these cases the insurance company will often auction off recovered property, the original owner was able to buy it back for an undisclosed sum, an Allstate spokesman said.

“In the history of Allstate, at least, which goes back 80-some-odd years, we had never come across something like this,” he said. “Almost all stolen cars are either found within the first five or six weeks, or not at all.”

Google sheds more light on self driving car collisions

NEW YORK (AP) — Google is disclosing more details about the 12 accidents involving its self-driving cars so far as part of a commitment to provide monthly updates about the safety and performance of the vehicles.

The summary released Friday described all of the collisions as minor, saying no injuries were reported. As it has been doing for several weeks, Google said that the self-driving technology was not to blame for any of the accidents. In one case, however, an employee used the self-driving car to run an errand and rear-ended another car that was stopped in traffic. Google had previously disclosed that accident, which happened in August 2011.

Google’s breakdown of the accidents came just two days after company co-founder Sergey Brin told shareholders that the company had already disclosed most of the pertinent information about the crashes.

Consumer Watchdog, a group that has been a longtime Google critic, has been pushing the Mountain View, California, company to release all of the accident reports filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and other law enforcement agencies. Dissatisfied with Google’s accounting, Consumer Watchdog on Friday renewed its call for the company to release the official accident reports.

 The Associated Press has asked Google and the California Department of Motor Vehicles for the reports. Both have refused, citing privacy concerns.

While the latest disclosures fell short of providing the official accident reports, they did give previously unreleased information on the locations and dates and circumstances of the 12 accidents.

Google Inc. started testing the cars in 2009, and the first accident was in May 2010.

The company says six of the accidents happened while the car was in autonomous driving mode. The other six happened while staffers were driving, including one incident where the car was hit by another driver who rolled through a stop sign. Google says the self-driving car automatically applied the brakes when it detected the other vehicle, and Google’s driver took manual control once the brakes were applied. The Google vehicle sustained some damage.

All but two of the accidents happened in Google’s hometown of Mountain View, where the company plans to begin testing its latest self-driving car — a pod-like vehicle — this summer.

While several of the accidents happened at low speeds or while the car was stopped, in one case a Google vehicle was driving 63 miles per hour on a highway in San Jose, California, when another vehicle veered into its side.

Google’s cars have been involved in four accidents so far this year, according to the company. It says the cars travel about 10,000 miles a week on public streets. The vehicles have driven about one million miles in autonomous mode and Google’s drivers have been in control for 800,000 additional miles.

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“We’re not going to be putting a limit on what the fine could possibly be.”

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