With winter weather hitting in full force, the Ponoka RCMP is reminding residents to lock up their vehicles and to never leave a running vehicle unattended.
Leaving cars running with the keys inside to warm up at this time of year, or leaving valuables in view, even in a locked vehicle, poses a significant risk for theft.
From March to Dec. 2020, there were over 7,800 theft from motor vehicle offences and over 7,100 theft of motor vehicle offences in Alberta, according to the Alberta RCMP.
Locally, between April 1 and Sept. 30, 2021, there were 24 instances of thefts of motor vehicles and 32 instances of theft from within motor vehicles, according to stats provided by the Ponoka RCMP detachment.
In eight of the 24 (33 per cent) of theft of motor vehicle occurrences where the vehicles were successfully stolen, the vehicle keys were not secure. These keys were either left inside the vehicle or insecurely stored in a nearby building.
In 13 of 32 (41 per cent) of theft from motor vehicle occurrences, easily transportable items (such wallets, bank cards, currency, cheques, and a firearm) were stolen.
“The spill-over crime potential from being complacent in leaving your valuables in vehicles or vehicles running with the keys is staggering,” said Staff Sgt. Chris Smiley. “Everything from identity fraud to traffic collisions with hit and runs could result.”
Of note, there were 20 break and enters into residences during the same time period in 2021. In four of the 20 (20 per cent) break and enter to residence occurrences, garage door openers were stolen from vehicles parked near the property and used to break into the garage.
A recent survey conducted by AMA showed that 10 per cent of members have left their vehicles unlocked and 11 per cent had left them unattended while running.
Some tips for preventing vehicle theft include:
– Always lock up your vehicle. Never leave a running car unlocked to warm up.
– Protect extra vehicle keys. Some models of cars include a valet key in the owner’s manual.
– Electronic engine immobilizers offer effective protection against auto theft, and are included in all new model vehicles in Canada.
– Vehicle alarms and steering wheel locks are effective theft deterrents.
– Park in well-lit areas near pedestrian traffic or inside a secure garage.
To prevent theft from vehicles:
– Remove valuables from vehicles, including phones, GPS, shopping bags or loose change. Keep tempting items out of site in the trunk.
– Remove garage door openers from your car. They can be used by thieves to gain access to your garage and home.
– Keep registration and insurance papers in the glove box.
Visit the Central Alberta Crime Prevention website at www.cacpc.ca for more crime prevention tips.