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Auto thieves more desperate, more creative, says MPI after SUV stolen from repair shop

May 7, 2019

Thieves are getting more desperate and more creative when it comes to stealing your vehicle. That's the latest message from Manitoba Public Insurance.

It comes as a Winnipeg woman says her SUV was stolen while in for repairs at Canadian Tire.

Tessa Schultz said on Saturday she dropped off her white 2007 Dodge Nitro at the store to have a tire re-sealed.

Schultz said when she came back to pick it the next afternoon from the store's parking lot, it was gone.

"I went in and asked for my keys and to pay my invoice, and 'Oh, it's not here,’ and everybody just started panicking," she told CTV News Tuesday.

Schultz said her SUV was in the parking lot.

She said police have told her the keys had been taken from inside the shop.

CTV News spoke with the store manager on the phone.

"This is now with the police and we are not able to make any comment," said Carlota Manacsa.

Manitoba Public Insurance said it's aware vehicles are being stolen from repair shops and 90 per cent of auto thefts are related to the use of keys.

It also said thefts are up about 4 per cent over the last few years and customers should insist keys at shops be locked up.

"Auto thieves are getting more desperate and they're more creative. It's that simple, so what we’re seeing is 99 percent of the vehicles that are getting stolen are immobilized," said MPI spokeperson Brian Smiley.

Smiley said if a theft claim determines a vehicle is written off or needs repairs MPI will take care of it.

"However, the corporation will or does have an option to recover costs from the business operator, if it can be shown or proven that those keys weren't properly secured. We've done it in the past and we have been successful," he said.

Until her insurance kicks in, Schultz has borrowed her mom's car. She hopes her Dodge is found.

"Has a sun roof, it was my first vehicle with a sunroof. And I really want it back, so if someone has it, that would be great. I would really like it back.”

Winnipeg police said no arrests have been made in this case.

Schultz’s vehicle has the license plate GKW893

MPI encourages customers to ask the garage how they protect keys and ask the shop if it uses a lock box.

Smiley said there is an onus on garages to keep keys in a safe and secure area that are not accessible to the public.

3,400 vehicles are stolen in Manitoba every year, at a cost of $30 million.

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