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Dealer’s Voice: Anti-theft measures evolve

by Frank Romeo

This post originally appeared on the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association website ( and the Toronto Star

The average new car dealership carries inventory and property worth several million dollars. With that much valuable property on site, dealerships are targets for theft and vandalism.

Thieves steal or vandalize new and used automobiles, auto parts, gasoline, furniture, tools and equipment and more. Even catalytic converters are now a hot commodity on the black market, fetching up to thousands of dollars because they contain precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium.

Protecting inventory and property has always been a priority for dealers. But as thieves’ methods have grown increasingly sophisticated, so too have the tools and resources required that prevent theft.

In recent years, dealers have stepped up efforts to stop criminal activity by investing in advanced high-tech equipment, including fingerprint car-key security systems and video surveillance systems that constantly monitor.

To provide additional auto theft protection for dealer’s inventory, protection that can be transferred to customers, the standard among Canadian dealers is’s Vehicle Registration and Recovery Network.

Developed and enhanced for over a decade by Roy, Speed and Ross Ltd., is a body-panel making system that connects the true VIN of the vehicle through a nationwide database uniting the dealership, customers and law enforcement in the fight against auto theft.

Auto thieves know a vehicle is protected, traceable, harder to sell to chop shops and cost-prohibitive to “wipe clean.”

Dealers are especially vigilant about key security. Most dealers will not cut a duplicate key without insisting on seeing proper identification (photo ID with matching vehicle ownership) and most manufacturers’ keys cannot be easily duplicated. Automobile keys contain encoding unique to each specific vehicle.

Other anti-theft measures include customer test-drive policies, indoor vehicle compounds, security fencing, enhanced lighting systems, inventory controls and internal auditing procedures.

In addition to high-tech equipment and internal procedures, dealerships work closely with their staff, local police and private security companies to protect their premises and property.

Obviously it’s not in a dealership’s best interests to disclose all of the security procedures in place or to reveal the potential vulnerabilities at its facilities.

Rather, customers, suppliers or visitors to a dealership should know that safeguards are in place to protect our property and any property entrusted to our care, such as customers’ vehicles.

The federal government has long recognized the severity of auto theft and its impact on dealerships, consumers and insurance premiums. In 2010, the federal government passed The Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act, or Bill S-9, targeting organized crime’s increasing role in stolen vehicles.

Bill S-9 created a separate offence regarding the theft of a motor vehicle and carries a mandatory prison sentence of six months for conviction of a third offence or subsequent offence when prosecuted.

The passing of Bill S-9 is a move that the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) strongly advocated for years. It’s law that Trillium Automobile Dealers Association supports.

Auto theft at dealerships not only means trouble for staff, but it poses a potential danger to our employees and customers if they witness a theft in progress.

Needless to say, auto theft is also bad for business. If the number of claims increases, so do insurance premiums and the cost of doing business.

There is no denying that theft-deterrent systems and increased vigilance have contributed to the reduction in auto theft in Canada. But no system is foolproof.

Safeguarding inventory and property is an ongoing process.

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