Dealers throughout Canada are taking measures to fight theft, whether or not it’s locking buyer vehicles inside at night time, strategically parking automobiles to discourage catalytic-converter theft or putting in costly digital camera methods to help safety workers.
At the Scottsville Group, which owns three shops in Red Deer, Alta., and one in Cranbrook, B.C., Dealer Principal Garrett Scott stated theft was a $75,000-a-year downside till his new safety protocols have been in place.
Over the previous 5 years, Scott has been putting in in all his Red Deer tons a high-tech digital camera system that detects movement and directs the ensuing video to a safety guard stationed in a automobile. The system permits the guard to dismiss inconsequential movement, comparable to a fluttering purchasing bag, but additionally permits the guard to drive rapidly to the scene ought to an precise interloper be detected.
“The cameras themselves were not an effective deterrent,” Scott stated. “But since our security guard had that kind of tool, we have had very few incidents.”
Scott estimated that the system price $500,000 by the point it was full.
Incidents have been few, he stated, restricted to occasional smash-and-grab thefts from buyer automobiles. “We spend good money on security,” Scott stated, “so it’s paying off.”
A chief loss was gasoline, he stated. “They would lay under a vehicle, drill a hole in the tank and then leave.”
When confronted, he stated, trespassers have tried all types of excuses, comparable to being an worker trying to work after hours or attempting to persuade the safety guard that they themselves are performing safety duties.
At Crosby Automotive Group, which owns 4 dealerships in southern Ontario, catalytic-converter thefts have been an issue, stated Dealer Principal Michael Crosby. He estimates that over 4 years, he has misplaced $50,000 to $60,000 to converter thieves.
“It’s been going back probably four or five years,” he stated. “It’s certainly not anything that’s new. It’s escalated in the last two or three years.”
Insurance firms are sounding the alarm. In June, Allstate Insurance Co. of Canada reported that in 2022, claims elevated 60 per cent over 2021 and have been up 1,710 per cent since 2018. In Winnipeg, police reported 351 thefts in April 2022 alone, whereas Calgary police reported 3,174 thefts from January to November of 2022.
It’s an issue that has captured the eye of the Motor Vehicle Retailers of Ontario, which is making suggestions to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.
“Damaged cars needing repairs and the resultant higher insurance premiums are becoming major problems for new-car retailers,” stated Frank Notte, director of presidency relations on the Motor Vehicle Retailers. “We believe that working together with government, law enforcement and other auto sector stakeholders can put an end to this costly crime that affects everyone.”
Catalytic converters are in demand as a result of the valuable metals inside — palladium, platinum and rhodium — are beneficial.
Steps that Crosby has taken to assist mitigate the danger embrace beefing up safety patrols. And because the automobiles most frequently hit are vans and SUVs which might be simpler to slip below, he’ll park sedans on both sides of these automobiles to no less than make entry harder.
Audis are essentially the most theft-resistant, Crosby stated, as they usually have underchassis covers that make it tough to get to the catalytic converter. Aside from Audi of Kitchener-Waterloo, he operates Crosby Volkswagen in Kitchener, Volkswagen Waterloo in Waterloo and Listowel Honda in Listowel.
Crosby estimates the price of changing a converter begins with the worth of the converter itself, starting from about $800 to $1,500, not together with labour. But because the thieves aren’t precisely meticulous, he stated, there’s typically peripheral injury that requires restore or elements substitute.
While it’s a large enough downside when it hits his stock, Crosby is cautious to make sure that his prospects aren’t focused when their vehicles are in in a single day for service. Those automobiles are parked inside.
“It’s just not the kind of news you want to be sharing with customers,” he stated.
The worst conditions, he stated, occurred through the COVID-19 pandemic, when he would have a brand new automobile able to promote however then found it wanted a catalytic converter, which was generally back-ordered for months.
Repairs have turn into faster since elements provides have begun to stabilize because the pandemic, Crosby stated.
He thinks that as stock ranges start to normalize, the thefts may develop.
“It could become a larger issue as more vehicles become available and dealers have more sitting on their lot,” he stated.