Leaving your vehicle unsecured

Recent social media posts are rehashing a story from last summer in Nanaimo where a woman received a traffic ticket for leaving her parked vehicle unattended with the doors unlocked and the windows rolled down. While the law does require that you must lock your vehicle or make it secure in some manner to prevent its unauthorized use, locking the doors and rolling up the windows is not the only way to accomplish this. In most cases you can still leave the windows down to keep animals in the vehicle cool in warmer weather.

Most vehicles today are built with anti-theft devices built in. The most obvious one that comes to my mind is that when I remove my ignition key the steering and gear selector on my vehicle are automatically locked. Should I choose to leave my doors unlocked and the windows down a potential thief cannot steer the vehicle or get the transmission out of park in order to roll it away. While the contents of my vehicle may be open to theft, it is still secured against use by others that I have not given the key to.

If your vehicle is old enough that it does not have an anti-theft device or the anti-theft device that it does have is broken, then you must do something and rolling up the windows and locking the doors is probably the simplest solution. Placing a locking device on the steering wheel alone may not be enough as the vehicle may still be able to be moved, just not steered properly.

I checked with ICBC about theft insurance and was advised that leaving a vehicle unsecured would not affect my ICBC theft insurance coverage if the vehicle was stolen. The adjuster did point out that not securing the vehicle would serve as an invitation to thieves who appreciate an easy target. We all pay premiums based on losses, so preventing theft does affect our insurance costs.


The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more please visit drivesmartbc.ca.

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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