Stolen vehicles in Red Deer are on the rise and they are being used by criminals to commit other crimes, many of which include drugs and weapons. The RCMP is urging residents to be vigilant.
“Stolen vehicles are on the increase, not just in Red Deer, but in Central Alberta, as well as property crimes. People committing property crimes use the stolen vehicles to commit further crimes,” said Cpl. Karyn Kay with the Red Deer RCMP. “That is common anywhere you look. No one wants to do bad things in their own car. They don’t mind destroying someone else’s car.
“Part of that is they not only commit other property crimes, but they also commit offences in the drug trade and you get a nasty ring of offences that are caused by stolen vehicles.”
She added it only takes a matter of seconds for a criminal to steal a vehicle.
“People are out there and they are watching for it. If you leave your vehicle unlocked and running or have a spare key inside, you are giving criminals an easy way to wreak havoc in the community. They’re going to use your vehicle to rob people, to break into homes and businesses, to deal drugs and to transport firearms.”
One example is when police found a stolen Ford F150 and a snowmobile located behind a residence. When Red Deer RCMP began to investigate, they found four loaded rifles, two shotguns and a loaded pellet handgun inside.
“Those weren’t in the vehicle when they were stolen. The people we are arresting associated with these incidents have a property crimes history, they usually have some sort of warrant for their arrest.”
In another incident, RCMP patrolling a ‘hot spot’ in the City located a stolen truck. The suspect fled, police dogs tracked him and he was arrested for possession of stolen property over $5,000, obstruction, break and enter, and 13 outstanding warrants.
In another investigation, a suspect was also arrested after fleeing from police twice in a stolen vehicle and damaging police cruisers and private vehicles.
Recently, a stolen truck was used in two attempted ATM thefts – one in Red Deer and one in Innisfail. The suspects then abandoned the truck.
One thing RCMP see regularly is that offenders arrested in stolen vehicles are often also in possession of stolen ID, credit cards, cheques and even passports that were left in vehicles and stolen during smash and grabs or vehicle thefts. Police say these items can change hands quickly between criminals. In a number of RCMP files, a suspect has been found in possession of IDs and credit cards from five or six different people, from crimes committed over a span of weeks and often in different jurisdictions.
In a couple of recent cases where a suspect was arrested while attempting to commit fraud (in one instance the suspect was arrested attempting to get a payday loan using stolen ID), the ID had been left in a stolen vehicle.
Meanwhile, Kay said over the past number of months, Red Deerians have done an excellent job in calling in suspicious vehicles they see in the City.
“However, there are the other half who continue to leave their vehicles running with their keys in it or hiding keys in their vehicle which makes it a very easy and the opportunity is there,” said Kay. “As much as we have so many doing so many great things, we also have so many that are allowing themselves to be victimized.”