Theft threat grows for owners of most-at-risk vehicles in Manitoba

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March 2, 2007 — If you own a “most-at-risk” vehicle without an immobilizer, the odds of it being stolen are just getting worse, warns Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI). In fact, your risk has nearly doubled in the past year. While the risk of theft in Winnipeg was once 1 in 22 for vehicles on the public insurer’s most-at-risk list, the odds have now increased to 1 in 13, says Tim Arnason, Director, Auto Theft Prevention, of Manitoba Public Insurance.

The increased risk isn’t due to growth in the overall theft rate; it’s due to the growing number of high-risk vehicle owners who are installing immobilizers. “Thieves are continuing to target most-at-risk vehicles, and if they see the immobilizer sticker on the windshield, they know they have to move on to another vehicle,” Arnason explained. “They’re looking for the vehicles that are still easy to steal. If your vehicle is one of them, it could be only a matter of time before you wake up in the morning to find that vehicle gone.

“The solution is so simple. If you own a most-at-risk vehicle, all you have to do is accept our invitation to have an immobilizer installed at no cost to you.”

The Manitoba Public Insurance most-at-risk list consists of about 150 vehicle groupings, with older model Dodge, Chrysler, and GMC products being the most vulnerable. While most-at-risk vehicles make up only 10 per cent of the vehicles on the road today, they account for 62 per cent of all thefts in the province, said Arnason. Several new measures targeting most-at-risk vehicles came into effect last September. Once stolen, these vehicles must have an immobilizer installed before they can return to the road. The new measures also require immobilizers to be installed in any high-risk vehicle imported into the province for the first time. On average, about 6,000 of these vehicles are brought into Manitoba for resale every year.

“By installing immobilizers, we aren’t just preventing theft. We’re also protecting lives,” said Arnason. “Once stolen, these vehicles are driven at high rates of speed by young, inexperienced drivers, often resulting in damages and injuries to innocent victims.”

So far, about 60,000 vehicle owners have taken advantage of Manitoba Public Insurance’s immobilizer program. For vehicles on the most-at-risk list, the corporation will pay the entire cost of a standard immobilizer installation. For other vehicles, the cost to the owner is $140 – less than half of what a standard installation would otherwise cost – with the balance paid by Manitoba Public Insurance. Participants in the program also receive an immediate $40 discount on their Autopac, plus a $40 discount every year they continue to own the vehicle.

To book an appointment, call Manitoba Public Insurance at 985-7000.