With a recent rash of vehicle thefts in the valley, residents are on high alert, but there are ways people can protect themselves.
Car thefts are nothing new and sadly Alberta has the worst record for vehicle thefts.
“’Unfortunately Alberta is leading in all the wrong ways,” says Jeff Kasbrick, president of government and stakeholder relations at AMA. “We have been the number one province for vehicle theft, and that’s in the total number, not just the proportions. We represent 29.2 percent of all vehicle thefts that occur in the country. And we have 12 per cent of the population.
“When you look at the numbers province-wide there has been a 56 percent increase in the number of vehicle thefts, so it is a really staggering number. In 2017 there were 24,830 vehicles stolen, 68 vehicles per day.”
He said the AMA has launched its Lock It or Lose It campaign to focus on some ways people can not be a victim and prevent vehicle thefts.
“We have often seen upwards of 50 per cent of vehicles that are stolen in the province unfortunately are when there are keys in the vehicle or the vehicle is left idling,” said Kasbrick. ”Although circumstance of vehicle theft is never acceptable, there are few things we can do ourselves to prevent vehicle theft.”
These are as simple as removing your keys when you leave your vehicle unattended. This also means locking your doors and removing any valuables from plains sight within the vehicle. That can include removing your personal documentation.
“The reason why we suggest that is because it has a lot of personal data that is relevant to you. It could be an opportunity for identity theft which would just add insult to injury if your vehicle is stolen but also if your garage door opener is left in your vehicle then they have an address in your vehicle, you make that criminal’s job just a little easier,” he said.
He adds technology might be part of the solution. This could be anything from alarm systems to automatic starters that work in a secure vehicle, to tracking technology.
While many are crimes of opportunity, he says vehicle theft runs the gamut from joyriding to organized crime.
“Vehicles can be shipped fraudulently overseas … or vehicles can be used for other crimes. It goes far beyond some of what our initial concepts may be, it can be a very sophisticated operation,” said Kasbrick.
“We never want to lose that basic trust of our neighours and those who live in the same city as us but unfortunately we know the fact of the matter is there are some people who don’t have the greatest of intents, so we have to look out for ourselves and we have to look out for one and another.”
With the advent of social media, often the eyes on the ground are much further spread than simply your neighbours. Often the word of a theft is posted quickly seen by many.
“If you do see some suspicious activity, always contact the RCMP and make them aware of what you are observing, but it is a very good thing to many eyes in the community, and the vast majority of people have really good intentions. Be aware of your surroundings and report it to the RCMP so they can take appropriate action,” he said.