Young drivers targeted by auto thieves/vandals ? Manitoba Public Insurance

August 20 , 2004 – Young drivers between 18 and 24 appear to be at greatest risk of having a vehicle stolen, vandalized, or broken into and something stolen, according to a Manitoba Public Insurance survey.

About 38 per cent of survey respondents in this age group said they had reported an auto crime to the public insurer over the last two years. In comparison, 26 per cent of 25- to 39-year-olds reported an auto crime. Those within the 65 years of age and older category were the least likely (seven per cent) to experience them.

The study of 805 respondents was conducted in May. Earlier this week, the public insurer launched the second Annual Auto Theft Awareness Week, encouraging Manitobans to think about how they can protect their vehicles and reduce this social crime.

�Many young vehicle owners still don�t believe they could be targeted by criminals,� said Barry Ward, Auto Theft Co-ordinator with Manitoba Public Insurance. �It�s a matter of protecting both the vehicle and the belongings within the passenger area.�

Young vehicle owners tend to leave more valuables (CDs, cell phones, purses, wallets) in open view within the passenger compartment, explained Ward.

Statistics released by Manitoba Public Insurance earlier this week suggest most auto theft crimes may be taking place right outside our homes in residential neighbourhoods. Cars are also typically stolen from parking lots and shopping centres, and usually at night, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Cars with expensive sound systems are often targeted by criminals, according to several police agencies.

�An immoblizer is the best protection against vehicle theft,� said Ward. �Steps have now been taken to make it easier financially for young people to purchase an immobilizer.�

Recently Manitoba Public Insurance announced a financing program available to Manitobans who purchase an after-market immobilizer. Financing can be obtained for 12, 24 or 36 months. The public insurer also offers a yearly discount of $40 for those who purchase an immobilizer that meets national theft-deterrence standards.

About 31 per cent of the survey respondents who had experienced auto theft, vandalism or theft from a vehicle now use some form of anti-theft device (immobilizer or steering wheel locking device), reported the Manitoba Public Insurance survey.