Car thieves take a day off in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG — Was March 3 a stat holiday for Winnipeg's auto thieves?

No, but on that day — and for the first time in decades — not a single motor vehicle in the city was stolen during a 24-hour period, according to Manitoba Public Insurance.

"For too many years Winnipeg was known as the auto theft capital of Canada," MPI CEO and president Marilyn McLaren said in a news release. "That's a title soon to be relinquished."

Statistics were unable to confirm the last time Winnipeg went 24 hours without a car heist.

Manitoba's theft numbers peaked in 2006 when 16,986 vehicles were stolen or targeted for theft. In 2008, 4,465 vehicles were reported stolen in Manitoba, including 3,173 from Winnipeg. These are the lowest provincial theft numbers since 1992 when 2,411 vehicles were reported stolen.

The zero-theft milestone is confirmation that Manitoba's immobilizer program and the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy are working, said McLaren.

In 2007, the immobilizer regulation was expanded, making Manitoba the first province in Canada to require the use of electronic immobilizers in vehicles determined to be at "high risk" of theft as a condition of a new registration or renewal.

This expansion of the provincial regulation coincided with the new federal requirement to install immobilizers in all new cars, vans, light trucks and sport utility vehicles built after Sept. 1, 2007 for sale in Canada

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