Auto thieves are roaming neighbourhoods and rural areas looking for a quick opportunity. It takes less than a minute to get in a vehicle and drive away.
Across this province, the RCMP, along with their partner police agencies, are warning citizens about the repercussions of leaving your unsecured vehicle idling. The police are asking vehicle owners to keep their keys/key fob on their person when allowing their vehicles to idle.
“Although trucks are predominantly the vehicle of choice, don’t forget to secure your other motor vehicles, like quads, tractors and snowmobiles,” says Corporal Curtis Peters of Strategic Communications. “We have a recent example of a situation where a tractor was stolen and used to ram and disable a police vehicle. These situations are potentially deadly.”
The mindset of a driver of a stolen vehicle is not always rational. Situations involving stolen vehicles can have a significant impact on public safety and recently, police safety. There is no expectation that a thief will take care of your vehicle.
In recent weeks, the RCMP has had two examples where police safety was put severely at risk. On October 28, Barrhead RCMP responded to a suspicious person complaint which escalated into the suspect stealing a tractor which had keys in it and ramming the police vehicle. Then in Red Deer, a 21-year-old male stole a truck that was idling and when located by the police, he rammed the police vehicle with the truck. Fortunately, in both incidents, no one was injured.
Since October 1, we have had 1,420 vehicles stolen in Alberta RCMP jurisdictions. We know many of these were idling vehicles with the keys accessible.
Citizens are reminded to:
Never leave a running vehicle unattended. If your keys must be in the ignition to warm it up, you should remain with your vehicle.
Install a remote starter if possible; however, always make sure the vehicle is locked.
Use a steering wheel lock to deter thieves.
Never leave children unattended in a running vehicle.
Never leave spare keys or garage door openers in or around your vehicle. If a garage door opener goes missing at any time, the garage door should be immediately recoded.
If your keys are stolen, immediately change the locks for the keys that have gone missing, including residences and vehicles.
Vehicles equipped with a keyless ignition can still be stolen if left running, even with the key fob removed from the vehicle. Always lock the door leading from a garage into a residence.