Tips on preventing vehicle theft from your shop

by | Dec 14, 2023 | 0 comments

Vehicle theft has risen to epidemic proportions, with thousands of vehicles being lifted from wherever they are parked every day,

Thieves may be more sophisticated than ever, but car theft from businesses is nothing new.

Some decades ago, I was paying a visit to a friend of the family’s Porsche dealership.
I no longer remember the reason for my visit– I may have been picking up the ’80 diesel Jetta after I’d clouted a curb, pretty sure repaired as a favour to my father — but I do recall very clearly the owner being on the phone with the buyer of new all white Porsche as I waited.

He hung up the phone and asked a team member to bring it around for the new owner who was on her way – it was being purchased as a gift for her brother — only to have that team member return shortly after, and ask again which car he wanted to be brought around. “The white one with the white wheels,” came the answer.

The team member left and returned quickly again saying that it wasn’t there. The owner rushed from behind the desk  to see for himself, quickly came back in spitting that someone had stolen it overnight.

So, you have the new vehicle owner on their way, while the business is now having to give bad news to same. For the dealership there was the added wrinkle that they had to find a replacement which wasn’t going to be easy considering the specific options.

While, that last facet may not be something that the independent Automotive Service Provider commonly has to deal with, anyone working at an auto shop could appreciate the sinking feeling when having to inform a customer that the vehicle they had brought in for service has been stolen.

Certainly, there are some difficult issues to confront after a vehicle has been stolen, with both the customer and the insurers and, in the event that shop procedures had not been followed by team members to keep vehicles safe, there may be some conversations there, too.

All of which is to say that it’s never a good thing. There is a saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this seems apt when it comes to vehicle theft. So, here are some useful tips that will go some ways as preventing vehicle theft from your business.

Take a layered security approach

Thieves, especially the professional ones, want to focus on easy targets. They may quite literally have an order to fill. If it looks like the vehicles at your shop are going to be tough to steal, they may go elsewhere.

Have a secure, well-lit outside compound

If you have the space to have a well-lit secure, fenced parking compound, consider making the investment. This will enhance security, but don’t take for granted that this alone will secure vehicles.

Maintain a well-lit premises

Thieves do not like to operate in well lit areas. Ensure all areas are well lit, inside and outside.

Use security cameras

While their role as a deterrent is unclear, current technology has made them an easy addition to any facility. You should consider having them placed strategically with views of interior and exterior locations. These may prevent some thieves, but will certainly help with post-crime reporting.

Keep vulnerable/attractive vehicles indoors overnight

Thieves are on the lookout for specific vehicles. Check your “most stolen” list and try to keep these indoors overnight, and secured at all times.

Here’s the most recent “Most Stolen” list in Canada:

  1. Honda CR-V (Model year most often stolen: 2020)
  2. Dodge RAM 1500 (Model year most often stolen: 2022)
  3. Ford F150 Series (Model year most often stolen: 2020)
  4. Lexus RX Series (2020)
  5. Toyota Highlander (2021)
  6. Honda Civic (2019)
  7. Jeep Grand Cherokee (2021)
  8. Land Rover Range Rover (2020)
  9. Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/Sierra 1500 Series (2006)
  10. Jeep Wrangler (2021)

Have a secure key location and control access

Always store keys in a secure location when the vehicle isn’t being driven or delivered. Never keep keys in the ignition, or spares in the glove box. Keys should also be kept in a RF blocking cabinet (Faraday Box) to prevent remote scanning. And control access to the keys. Not everyone needs to have access at all times.

Make it harder for thieves to tow a vehicle

Park cars with parking brakes on, and tires turned sharply in one direction to make it harder for criminals to tow vehicles off the lot.

Have an end-of-day vehicle security process

Ensuring that you have secured vehicles, that keys are locked away, and that the facility is secured is an important component of anti-theft security. Ensure you have a routine in place, and that you use it. Every day.

“Back in the day” we thought nothing of leaving a customer’s keys in the visor or just under the edge of the seat for them to come pick up their vehicle. That’s just not a smart practice, and failing to take all reasonable measures to secure customer vehicles might also leave you open to issues with an insure as well as a customer.


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