Ken Pugh argues ICBC should reform its rules on keeping original insurance papers in the vehicle.

Ken Pugh argues ICBC should reform its rules on keeping original insurance papers in the vehicle.

ICBC could help curb home break-ins: Critic

Thieves exploit 'outdated' rule on keeping insurance papers in vehicle

ICBC officials say they’ll look at loosening the requirement to keep auto insurance papers in the vehicle – a rule some owners say leaves them vulnerable to home burglars.

Thieves sometimes break into vehicles, get the address of the owner from the insurance papers, and then go loot the home. Some even use a garage door opener from the car to get inside.

Chilliwack university instructor Ken Pugh has been pressing ICBC to act.

He says crooks going for the car-home break-in combo target vehicles likely to be parked for hours at places like movie theatres, trail heads and churches.

“Sometimes they even slash the tires so the owners can’t get home quickly,” he said. “They’ve got it down to an art.”

That threat could be eliminated, Pugh said, if ICBC let owners keep their original car insurance papers at home and use a photocopy in the vehicle with the address blacked out if they’re stopped by police.

So far, ICBC officials maintain originals must stay with the vehicle and it would take provincial legislation to change that rule.

“We’re taking a look at what can be done to address these concerns,” ICBC spokesperson Kathy Taylor said. “Sometimes a quick fix to a process is possible, but we want to exercise due diligence to make sure we wouldn’t be creating any larger issues.”

Meanwhile, ICBC recommends storing the originals in a hidden panel or secure storage box in the vehicle or else taking them with you when you’re away from your car.

But carrying a sheaf of insurance documents is impractical, said Pugh.

“I’d need a man-purse,” he said. “A wallet’s not big enough.”

And he doubts any hiding place inside a vehicle would be thief-proof.

He argues B.C. could simply follow the lead of Saskatchewan, which provides a wallet-sized card for proof of insurance and allows drivers to keep the original documents at home.

“ICBC has been very slow to react to this,” he said, adding he has neighbours who are afraid to leave their homes after a flurry of break-ins.

The auto insurer doesn’t seem to care if criminals target homes, he said, but added the provincial government should if it’s serious about public safety and protecting families.

“This is an outdated procedure that is no longer in the interests of public safety.”

Pugh wants Public Safety Minister Shirley Bond to intervene and is also asking B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner to investigate and potentially order ICBC to change its policy.

The RCMP publicly cautioned motorists this spring against leaving identifying documents such as insurance in vehicles, most recently after a flurry of thefts from the homes of church-goers in Abbotsford.

RCMP E Division spokesperson Sgt. Rob Vermeulen said it’s likely rare that burglars target homes using insurance paperwork, but added it’s wise to take precautions.

“Our advice would not be to leave the documents in the vehicle,” he said. “Carry them with you.”

A thief stopped by police in a stolen vehicle would also be unable to produce documents and pass himself off as a legitimate operator, he added.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Amica White Rock resident receives the COVID-19 vaccine during a Jan. 15, 2021 clinic. (Tracy Holmes photo)
PHOTOS: South Surrey seniors grateful for ‘freedom’ of COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccination clinics at Fraser Health long-term and assisted-living sites were to wrap up Jan. 15

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey city councillors complain not enough public input in committees

City has gone ‘exactly the opposite direction,’ Councillor Brenda Locke charges

A Transit Police officer and another driver were injured on Nov. 4 in a traffic crash while the officer was responding to another officers call for help catching a man who escaped custody. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Police watchdog investigating Surrey crash that injured transit cop, another driver

Crash happened 11 p.m. Nov. 4, at 128th Street and 93rd Avenue in Cedar Hills

Friends and family of murder victim Paul Prestbakmo wore memorial masks outside Surrey Provincial Court Jan. 14, 2021. (From left) Family friend Tyler Whitley, sister Angela Prestbakmo, childhood friend Jimmy Slater, brother Steve Prestbakmo, Semiahmoo First Nation councillor Roxanne Charles and sister Liz Prestbakmo. (Tracy Holmes photo)
Two accused in 2019 South Surrey murder were ‘really angry,’ pacing at party: witness

‘We had this really strong gut feeling that something was really wrong’

Semiahmoo Rock
Record-setting 10 Semiahmoo Rock players selected in B.C. junior lacrosse draft

Kaleb Borg is the highest Rock player selected, going in the second round to the Coquitlam Adanacs

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Most Read