The Most-Stolen Items in Canada Aren’t What They Used To Be

March 6, 2014

car window getting smashed inThey say a house is a person’s castle; filled with our family treasures and, at one time, the vast amount of our wealth. This meant a traditional break and enter could put a thief on easy street. They could steal your cash, your TV, your VCR and, later, your DVD player. The RCMP says this was a common story in Canada in the 1980s and 1990s. But just as technology and the internet have changed our day-to-day lives, they have changed the priorities of Canada’s thieves.

“Back in the day, we would often see thefts of cash,  jewellery, electronics such as televisions,” says Sgt. Andrew Blackadar of the RCMP. He’s been investigating thefts across Canada since he joined the force in 1990.

“Today we don’t really see cash thefts from houses as more and more people are using debit and credit cards. They don’t keep large amounts of cash at home.”

Blackadar says thieves are no longer interested in TVs – too big to carry.

DVDs and CDs were once an easy item to steal and sell, but they too  are out in the world of digital downloads.

Thieves rarely steal desktop computers anymore, he says.

“They are hard to steal as many people are moving to laptops and tablets.”

Smash and Grab

The new war between property owners and thieves is being fought on a different battleground, over much-smaller goods.

“I know our property crime numbers are trending downward, however our thefts from vehicles is going up,” says Blackadar.

“The people who steal from cars do it as a crime of opportunity.”

Those thieves are mostly targeting easy-to-grab items such as cell phones or GPS units, often left in plain view inside vehicles. This kind of theft has become so common the Vancouver police department launched a city-wide media campaign, asking residents to keep an eye on their phones. The ad-campaign’s message is simple: ‘if you don’t watch your phone, thieves will.’ Even if that means smashing the window of an empty car to grab it. Or they might decide to take the entire car while they’re at it.

The Argument for Property Insurance

A report by Statistics Canada found that, on average, one car is stolen every three minutes in Canada. Automobile theft is at an all-time high in many parts of the country. The contents inside your vehicle are not automatically covered by your automobile insurance; so you may be on the hook for replacing the items yourself if you don’t have property insurance. Property insurance is tied to your home, whether you own or rent – but it may cover items taken in an auto theft too.

Even if you have property insurance, you may have to prove that the thief physically broke into your vehicle before you are reimbursed for the items.

“The biggest deterrent is locking the vehicle,” says Sgt. Blackadar.

First thing to do after a Theft

Regardless of what is stolen from your vehicle, or your home, your first call should always be to the police. After you’ve reported the theft, give your insurance provider a call to make a claim.

While the goods thieves target has changed dramatically, the process for reporting your stolen goods to your insurance agency has stayed mostly the same.