Lock It or Lose It: Prevent Vehicle Theft
November 16, 2023
Break and enters and thefts, especially motor vehicle thefts, have become a major cause of concern in rural areas of Alberta. Alberta had an 18% increase in vehicle thefts from 2021 to 2022, according to the Vehicle Theft Trend Report. By August, RCMP had responded to around 4,500 reports of thefts from vehicles and around 5,000 stolen vehicles in 2023.
The majority of vehicles stolen in rural Alberta are trucks. Pickup trucks dominate the top 10 list in Alberta for vehicles stolen.
While Alberta has a high vehicle theft rate, we also have one of the highest recovery rates in Canada. It is estimated that 80% of stolen vehicles in Alberta are recovered; this can indicate why and how vehicles are being stolen. Criminals generally use these stolen vehicles to commit other crimes such as drug, human, or firearm trafficking or as a “getaway” vehicle. They are also stripping vehicles for parts or changing a vehicle's identification number (VIN) and reselling it (known as "re-vinning"). Some are even shipped and resold in international destinations, though this is less common in Alberta.
However, because the majority of stolen vehicles are recovered in Alberta, it indicates that many thefts are crimes of opportunity. 40% of all stolen vehicles have the keys in them, or the keys are accessible.
High traffic areas like shopping centres and airports see increased numbers of vehicle thefts. If you are planning on getting some shopping done or travelling this season, the RCMP recommends you take extra precautions when leaving your vehicles unattended. Make sure your vehicle is locked, and use your key or the lock button on the door to prevent criminals from cloning the FOB. They also recommend utilizing a steering wheel club and hiding your valuables.
These tips are a part of awareness initiatives like Lock It or Lose It that help prevent crime in rural Alberta, including motor vehicle thefts.
Lock It or Lose It
Lock It or Lose It is a public awareness campaign in partnership with local police services to help citizens take action to make their vehicles less appealing and accessible to criminals.
There are recommendations and steps that are provided by law enforcement, which every Albertan can easily follow. But Lock It or Lose It goes beyond just reminding you to lock your vehicles because criminals are not just interested in the vehicle itself but also its contents. Theft from vehicles is also common.
Criminals are able to steal valuable items from vehicles, such as phones, money and packages. These items left in your vehicle are visible through the windows and are an invitation for thieves. Personal documents like insurance papers and vehicle registration are also at risk of being taken, which can lead to identity theft and fraud. Additionally, leaving garage door openers and house keys inside your vehicle can allow them to burglarize your home.
Here are some tips you can follow to keep your vehicle and property safe in your rural community.
Lock It or Lose It Tips
- Do not leave your keys in the vehicle or accessible
- Ensure your doors are always locked
- Park in well-lit areas or a garage
- Never leave money, valuables or packages in plain sight. Put them in your trunk or remove them from your vehicle
- Roll up your windows
- Don’t leave personal information such as vehicle registration and proof of insurance in the glove box
- Don’t leave your car running while unattended
- If you often park in the parking lot, be sure to park in a different spot each time
- Using anti-theft devices
- Steering wheel locks and immobilizer
- Car alarms and GPS tracking systems
The collective impact of the Lock It or Lose It program on rural communities has been significant by putting a spotlight on vehicle theft in our province. Following these simple yet effective tips and actively engaging with local law enforcement and neighbours can make our rural Alberta communities safer and less appealing to criminals. Remember the importance of vehicle security, take these proactive steps to safeguard our assets, and together, let's make rural Alberta a safer place for everyone. Lock it, don't lose it!
As always, remember to report a crime or anything suspicious by contacting your local police service or RCMP detachment. For crimes in progress, emergencies or immediate threats, dial 911.
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