Auto theft: a lucrative market

Why is your car stolen?

Generally, cars are stolen for two reasons:

  • Joyriding: the vehicle is stolen to have a good time. This type of theft is committed by young kids and the vehicle is generally located soon after it's stolen.
  • Organized crime: auto theft is the work of well-organized criminal networks: generally, cars are stolen to be dismantled for parts or made over or cloned. There are also networks that steal to export the cars, especially luxury cars, to other countries.

Criminal networks

Dismantling for parts

Your car is taken to a chop shop where it is partially or completely stripped for parts. The parts are then sold on the recycled-parts black market in Quebec or elsewhere.


Making over or cloning to give a new identity


The three makeover stages for stolen car:

  1. The organized crime network obtains a severely damaged car.
  2. At the same time, it steals a car that is similar to the damaged car.
  3. The VIN is transferred from the damaged car to the stolen car.



Cloning is not quite the same as making over. But it's also meant to give a stolen vehicle a legal identity.

  1. The organized crime network takes the VIN from a parked car.
  2. At the same time, it steals an identical car.
  3. The VIN taken from the parked car is then transferred to the stolen car.
  4. The cloned car is then registered in another province or U.S. state.



Quebec is a strategic hub for exporting stolen vehicles, notably because of its portuary activities. Its proximity to the U.S. border and major waterways makes easy work for thieves.

Late model luxury and SUVs are at risk for this type of theft. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada's Investigative Services, these cars are exported to:

  • Eastern Europe
  • Russia
  • The Middle East
  • South America
  • Africa
  • The Caribbean
  • South-East Asia

How is a car stolen?

Most thefts are committed by organized networks. The thief receives an order to steal a specific make or model. Most often, he'll find the car in question in a parking lot.

It doesn't take long to steal a car. It takes just 30 seconds for an experienced thief to steal your car. If you've installed a security system, you'll make his job harder. You'll also contribute to reducing the risk of theft.

Auto theft and insurance

Before you buy or take out a long-term lease, check to see whether the car is on the list of most stolen vehicles. If it is, it will probably cost you more to insure.

Did you know that auto theft also costs insurers a lot of money? Every year, they pay out 10% of your auto insurance premium to cover auto theft payouts.


Be prepared.
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