The Alberta RCMP has released statistics that show that Week 42 of the year is the most active one of all for auto thieves in the province.
In case you haven't been keeping track, that's next week. Through October and November, the Alberta RCMP and detachments across the province will be working with peace officers and volunteer community groups to remind motorists to secure their vehicles and to remove all valuables from them.
Constable Mike Hibbs says if you're wondering why activity peaks during Week 42, it's likely you haven't stepped outside for the past three weeks or so.
"The temperatures are getting colder, so what we found last year for week 42, which was the week of October 16th, is that people started warming their cars up in their driveways and in parking lots and leaving the doors open and keys in their cars which is giving a prime opportunity to people who are stealing vehicles to get into a vehicle and drive away."
Another stat the RCMP have kept track of is the one that says 8:00 am is the most active time for vehicles being stolen.
According to Hibbs, "A lot of people don't have remote starters on their vehicles. They get up, they're still making breakfast in their house or getting ready to go for work. So what they do is they go out to start the vehicle, leave the door open and the keys in the ignition. We're finding it's a crime of opportunity for most thieves who are walking around neighbourhoods or parking lots just looking for vehicles to steal."
Hibbs and the RCMP are seeing a disturbing trend in vehicle thefts. Most of them are being taken and used for more nefarious purposes.
"Once they're stolen it's not just for a joy-ride, it's not for getting from one place to another. What we're finding is these vehicles are being used for break and enters on rural properties, a lot of them are being used for transporting drugs and they're also being used for funding other criminal activities like chop-shops. As they're stolen they become more of a hazard on the highway as well because they drive erratically and open themselves up for more collisions."
In 2017 an average of 34 vehicles per day were stolen in the province. That's a total of 12,362 vehicles, up 32 percent from 2014. From January to August 2018, 6,667 vehicles were stolen. Trucks proved the most often stolen vehicle.
In the list of the top ten RCMP detachments for thefts of motor vehicles, Airdrie is in fifth place with 379 stolen in 2017.
Hibbs passed along some simple steps you can take to prevent vehicle theft.
- Keep your vehicle locked at all times
- Always close the windows and lock the doors
- Never leave your vehicle running while unattended
- Don't keep your garage door opener in your car since this could give thieves easy access to your home and valuables
- Don't keep vehicle registrations and other ID in your vehicle. They are used to steal your identity
- Park in well lit areas with pedestrian traffic
- Hide all valuables and keep shopping bags out of sight
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