The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), Edmonton Police Service (EPS) and the RCMP are partnering to launch an educational campaign on rising auto theft rates in Edmonton.
Photo: On March 25 at approximately 7:30 p.m., a stolen vehicle veered off the road into an unoccupied bus shelter in the area of Abbottsfield Road and 118 Avenue. Multiple witnesses reported that it was travelling at high speed. Shortly after, police located a male suspect and arrested him. Credit: Edmonton Police Service.
The campaign, titled Lock Out Auto Theft, consists of a website, social media posts and a new video featuring aerial police footage and advertising, EPS explained in a press release on Thursday.
According to the release, 4,865 vehicles were stolen in Edmonton, a 41% increase from the 3,453 vehicles stolen in 2015. Incidents of auto theft have remained high in 2017, with 1,260 thefts from January through April, similar to the 1,267 thefts that occurred during the same time period last year, the release said. IBC estimates that 60% of stolen vehicles had keys inside.
“Our members are working hard not only to catch thieves in action but also to identify and recover stolen vehicles, but we need citizens’ help,” said Det. Dwayne Karpo of the EPS Auto Theft Unit. “It may seem obvious, but the majority of vehicles that are stolen have keys inside, are left unlocked or left running. We’re asking Edmontonians to lock their vehicles, take their keys and remove their valuables.”
Alfred Normand, acting director of the Investigative Service Division of IBC’s Western and Pacific Region, noted that “every year, many people are injured or die as a direct result of auto theft. When it’s in the hands of a thief, a stolen car is like a loaded gun,” he contended.
Added Karpo: “Thieves don’t care how they drive. They break traffic laws and cause collisions, damaging property and endangering officers and the public.”
According to EPS, stolen vehicles are also “frequently used in other crimes, such as drug trafficking, break and enters, robberies and hit and runs. Stolen property, drugs and weapons are routinely recovered from stolen vehicles.”