The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), Kelowna RCMP and crime prevention volunteers have partnered to equip owners of certain older- model cars with a means to theft-proof their vehicles.
As part of Operation Lock Up, which kicked into gear December 18, residents of Kelowna and West Kelowna can obtain free steering wheel locks to protect older-model vehicles from being stolen, notes an ICBC press release issued this week.
Overall, the ICBC reports, auto crime in British Columbia is declining. But the story is not the same for Kelowna and West Kelowna, where vehicle thefts increased by 3% and 80%, respectively, in the first six months of 2012 compared with the first half of 2011. Over that same period, break-ins also rose by 36% in Kelowna and 47% in West Kelowna.
Pre-2001 Honda Civics and pre-2008 Ford and Dodge pick-up trucks top the hit list for vehicles targeted by thieves in those communities.
The campaign will see ICBC distribute 200 free steering wheel locks in Kelowna and West Kelowna. Community police volunteers will provide the locks, while supplies last, to local residents who own these targeted vehicles and other pre-2001 vehicles that are not equipped with an anti-theft device.
Local residents can obtain a lock by bringing their vehicle registration to one of three locations.
“Steering wheel locks are one of the most effective tools to use as a deterrent for car thieves,” Constable Kris Clark, a media relations officer for the Kelowna RCMP, notes in the ICBC statement. “We’re continuing to bring down auto theft rates, but older model vehicles are still being targeted,” Clark reports.
“We want to help protect our customers in Kelowna and West Kelowna who own older vehicles, as these vehicles are more at risk of being stolen,” says John Dickinson, ICBC’s director of road safety.
“This investment from ICBC is well worth it – and the program will pay for itself with reduced auto crime,” adds Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick.