VINs, Keys and Thieves

VIN PlateWe have been getting some emails about thieves writing down the serial number from the car, then going to the garage, with a story of course, and getting a key made for your car. Could you write something on this and verify this statement is true. What can we do to stop this?

It is possible to provide a VIN to a dealer or locksmith and then having a functional key cut using just this information. The e-mail that you are speaking of advises that you should cover up the publicly viewable VIN on your vehicle so that a potential thief cannot see it from outside and then use it to have a key cut.

There is nothing wrong with following this advice. The law does not forbid you from covering up the VIN, but it does need to be available for viewing if you are stopped by police and they wish to verify it with your registration documents and other public VINs displayed on your vehicle. Don't cover up the number in such a way that it will cause you difficulty in uncovering it for this purpose!

However, don't take this advice a step too far and remove or deface the VIN. If you were to do so, the Criminal Code tells police that they may conclude that the vehicle is stolen from this fact alone. That would provide grounds for seizure of the vehicle if ownership needed to be proven. You would also be required to notify ICBC immediately and apply for and mark a new VIN as instructed.

I suspect that the chances of this actually happening to you are slight. It is far more likely that the thief will just break in, and force or hotwire the ignition switch and drive away. Preventing your vehicle from being stolen is more likely to be successful through the use of an anti-theft device. For more information, visit and while you are there, sign up for Zero Crash Month.

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