In Alberta, auto crimes are real – and it most often involves theft. Vehicles are stolen opportunistically by criminals and organized crime. Vehicles also enter the illegal market through fraud (dealer fraud, seller fraud, insurance fraud), cloning, or targeted occurrences of theft.
Auto crimes contribute to organized criminal activity in the province – vehicles are used to commit crimes, cloned to be less traceable, or sold fraudulently. Stolen or cloned cars can be used for drug, human, or firearm trafficking, to commit homicides, additional thefts, and other illegal activity.
In scrap metal sales paid out for all scrap metal materials turned in from recycling customers.
In assets recovered by ALERT autocrimes team throughout Alberta in the 2021-22 financial year.
118 vehicles recovered by ALERT autocrimes team throughout Alberta in the 2021-22 financial year.
Estimated cost overall to Albertans for stolen/illegal vehicles to be replaced through insurance claims.
Alberta’s reported auto theft rate in 2018 was 545 thefts per 100,000 people – 3x higher than that of Ontario, despite a population significantly smaller. The total number of reported autothefts was 23,507 accounting for 27% of Canadian auto thefts.
The easiest way to prevent vehicle theft that fuels organized crime is to keep your vehicle locked, and your keys secured. Although it may seem tempting to leave your car running during a quick coffee stop, warming up in the driveway, this create plausible situations for criminals to steal your car.
You may think it’s no big deal – insurance will cover the theft. Yet, as car theft increases, the cost in insurance premiums rise for all Albertans and contribute to the greater cost of crime to society.
Watch out for common red flags when you’re purchasing a car: non-original keys, only one key or altered keys. Check the vehicle CARFAX report – does it make sense? Are there any gaps in the history? Check the VIN – does it look like it’s the original, professionally printed VIN from a large car company or does it look altered or printed in low quality?
Realistically, no one is in the business of making great deals. Ask yourself what’s hiding behind the great deal… Is it too good to be true?
A car deal is never good enough to become involved or complicit in organized criminal activity. What are you willing to lose?
When you’re purchasing a vehicle, follow these best practices to help prevent autocrime: conduct verifications on the vehicle, seller and/or dealer. Check the VIN on CPIC and CARFAX. Make sure all transactions and identifications are traceable – don’t pay cash and check IDs. Verify authenticity of the bill of sale, and check with other provinces as to the legitimacy of the vehicle (often, VINs are cloned from another jurisdiction).
These steps are not all-encompassing. Like any area of crime, a single red flag may not indicate crime, but conducting many checks may shed light on other red flags. Conducting many checks and looking for more than one suspicious queue will give greater insight to the big picture.
 – 2019 Provincial Auto Theft Review Committee