Red Deer RCMP members have been quite the busy bees when it comes to reports of stolen vehicles.
Because they hear about so many, they have watch briefings in the morning. “During the days and the nights, policemen are actively looking for those stolen vehicles and trying to recover them,” said Cpl. Karyn Kay.
Using their Pinpoint Crime Reductions Strategy Program, the RCMP identify areas that are hot spots or target spots where there is an increase or influx of stolen vehicles.
“Usually what we find is when there’s an influx of stolen vehicles we have an influx of recovered stolen vehicles in the same area, so they’re switching out their vehicles,” said Kay.
She added that citizens have also been another big help in finding stolen vehicles.
“If something is uncomfortable for them whether it’s in a parking lot, a grocery store, where something doesn’t look right, they’re calling in suspicious vehicles,” she said.
She said citizens also have some social media sites where they are posting their own stolen vehicles.
“Often what happens is when you’ve been driving a stolen vehicle around for a certain amount of time, our thieves know that we’re looking for that vehicle, so often what they do is they just drop that vehicle and take the next best thing.”
In terms of how vehicles are stolen, Kay said it’s more often than not the fault of the owner.
“A high percentage are by owners leaving their vehicles unlocked and running or having their keys in the car,” she said.
The times the theft usually happens is when the weather is either really cold or really hot. Christmastime during the shopping hours is also a common time for it to occur.
In December, there were 111 stolen vehicles in Red Deer.
And according to Kay, stealing a vehicle isn’t that hard to do. “The majority of them are found like that but they can be started with a screwdriver. A criminal might be able to hot wire a car, but that’s not very common anymore.”
She said that, although old-fashioned, having clubs for the car in the steering wheel, making the vehicle unable to turn, is a good idea. Car starters also help in the prevention of theft.
Kay added that with all the work the RCMP and citizens of Red Deer are doing, the numbers are improving.
“Our statistics are going down – we are getting it, we are understanding,” she said.
In December of 2017, the RCMP and volunteers with Red Deer Citizens on Patrol continued their work on the Lock it or Lose it public education campaign. The campaign took place during a Rebels game at Westerner Park, and eight COP volunteers worked with the RCMP to check 390 vehicles in the parking lots in an effort to educate the public on the role they play in crime reduction.
Only 48 of the vehicles (12%) got a thumbs up.
“People had left wallets in their cars, keys in their vehicle and different types of things,” said Kay.
Kay added that when the RCMP and COP volunteers do those types of campaigns, they don’t just leave – they monitor the area to make sure those vehicles aren’t targeted based on what’s seen in the window.
Also in December, during a four-day covert stolen vehicle operation, the RCMP arrested 13 people, executed 34 warrants and laid 34 new criminal charges.
They also recovered 11 stolen vehicles.
“If you’re looking for somewhere to commit another crime, the easiest thing is to be in a different car where we don’t know who you are or what you’re doing,” said Kay, adding that people who are stealing vehicles use them to do other things to commit other crimes.
“That’s the least of what the intention is that they’re going to do with that vehicle.”