Residential neighborhoods targeted by auto thieves: Manitoba Public Insurance

Auto Theft Awareness week begins today

August 16 , 2004 – Winnipeg MB – Most auto crimes in the province are taking place right outside our homes, according to statistics released by Manitoba Public Insurance on the first day of Auto Theft Awareness Week.

In the May 2004 study, 59 per cent of the respondents who had been victims of auto theft crimes said their vehicles were parked at home or in a residential neighbourhood when they were stolen or broken into, or when items were stolen from the vehicle. Another 38 per cent of this group said the thefts occurred in a public location, such as a parking lot or downtown street.

�Of those Manitobans who own a steering wheel locking device, more than half reported using them only some of the time, rarely, or never,� said John Douglas, Vice-President of Corporate Affairs, Manitoba Public Insurance.

�Unprotected vehicles are quickly targeted by opportunistic car thieves. As we mark Auto Theft Awareness Week, this data reminds us that an electronic immobilizer is the most effective defence against this crime.�

An electronic immobilizer is a special device installed in the vehicle. When the special key is removed, the immobilizer is armed. When the vehicle is attacked by an auto thief, the immobilizer automatically shuts down the engine, fuel and electrical systems. Manitoba Public Insurance encourages their use by offering an annual discount on immobilizers that meet national theft deterrence standards.

Last year auto theft cost Manitoba Public Insurance and its ratepayers about $28 million.

Watch for the CATmobile

During Auto Theft Awareness Week, Manitoba Public Insurance will be touring the province with its newest educational tool ? the CATmobile.

The CATmobile (Combat Auto Theft) is designed to educate Manitobans about their individual power to battle auto theft. The 1997 Dodge Caravan was named after the highly-popular CAT decal program administered by Manitoba Public Insurance, in partnership with police agencies throughout the province.

�This vehicle was actually stolen and later recovered,� said Marci Riel, Auto Theft Issue Specialist, Manitoba Public Insurance. �The CATmobile symbolizes all the vehicles stolen each year in Manitoba. The overall purpose of the van is to heighten people�s awareness so that they can prevent many of these costly crimes.�

The highly visible van, customized with anti-theft messaging, will travel throughout the province to various fairs and community events. The public is welcome to visit Manitoba Public Insurance�s auto theft display booth in these communities (see backgrounder for dates and locations) and learn how to protect their vehicles.

Visitors to the booth can also enter a draw to win a passive immobilizing device. Manitoba Public Insurance summer staff will also conduct vehicle audits in Portage la Prairie, Brandon, Winkler and Winnipeg. Audits are designed to remind motorists of the many simple steps they can take to guard against vehicle theft.

Auto Theft Awareness Week continues until August 22.