An anti-theft sticker on the side window of a red car shows how you can protect your car with an anti-theft device

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, automobile theft costs Canadians nearly $1 billion each year — but using an aftermarket anti-theft device can significantly reduce your chances of becoming a target. While most newer vehicles come equipped with some built-in anti-theft features, you could consider enhancing your vehicle’s security by adding one or more of these popular anti-theft devices to your arsenal.

Steering wheel locks

If you can’t steer a vehicle, chances are you won’t get very far once the engine is running — and car thieves know this. So, when a thief sees a steering wheel lock through your window, it’s an immediate deterrent that will likely have them moving on to their next target.

Steering wheel locks come in many different styles and materials. Here are a few questions to ask when trying to choose the style that’s best for you:

  • What’s it made out of? Look for a steering wheel lock made from a strong material for maximum durability (one made of steel, for example, will likely be more difficult to cut or pry off than one made of plastic).
  • Does it do more than just lock the steering wheel? Consider looking for a model that has a hook that connects your steering wheel to your clutch or brake pedal for added security.
  • Is it enough on its own? A steering wheel lock isn’t always enough to stop a professional thief, who may go as far as removing your entire steering wheel and replacing it with their own. If you frequently have to park in areas with high car theft rates, consider adding a lock that connects your steering wheel to the steering column so it can’t be removed.

Alarm systems

Most vehicle alarm systems are designed to go off when a vehicle is subject to some kind of impact (like a window breaking) or entered without the proper key or key fob. When the alarm goes off, it will ideally scare away a potential thief who’s tampering with your car and doesn’t want to be spotted.

Many vehicles come with built-in alarm systems, but if yours doesn’t have one, you may want to consider having one professionally installed. There are a lot of different types of alarm systems out there (some come with automatic starters, lock/unlock fobs, and even mobile phone functionality that notifies you when your vehicle has been broken into).

Vehicle tracking systems

When a vehicle has been stolen, the chances of it being found safe and sound tend to be pretty slim — but a GPS tracking device can help police recover your vehicle, which could lead to an arrest and (hopefully) the safe return of your vehicle. There are several different types of tracking devices; some constantly monitor your vehicle’s location in real-time, while others are activated to pinpoint your vehicle’s location when it has been reported stolen. If you have a monitored tracking system and report your vehicle as being stolen, the security company can work directly with police to track your vehicle’s location until it’s found.

Electronic immobilizers

An immobilizer prevents your vehicle’s engine from running unless the proper key or key fob is inserted, preventing your vehicle from being “hot-wired.” Immobilizers have been mandatory in new cars, vans, light trucks, and SUVs built in Canada since 2007, so chances are your vehicle already has one built in. If you have an imported vehicle or a Canadian vehicle built before 2007, check the owner’s manual to find out if it has a built-in immobilizer, and if it doesn’t, consider having an aftermarket one installed by a professional mechanic.

Hood locks

Some car thieves steal and sell engines, batteries, and other valuable under-the-hood car parts. Designed to lock your vehicle’s hood so it can’t be opened without a key, a hood lock won’t prevent a thief from stealing your entire vehicle, but it can deter thieves who set out to sell vehicle parts (especially if you have a specialty or antique vehicle with modified parts). If you’re thinking about installing a hood lock on your vehicle, ask a professional mechanic which type they recommend for your vehicle.

Depending on your insurance company and your location, installing certain aftermarket anti-theft devices (especially steering wheel locks and alarm systems) could qualify you for a discount on car insurance. To find out how you could qualify for an anti-theft discount, contact your group’s licensed car insurance broker.

Wondering what else you can do to protect your vehicle from being stolen? Here are even more ways to deter potential thieves and avoid becoming a target for car theft.

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