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Grande Prairie vehicles getting graded as theft targets

If you get a green ticket on your dash today, it won’t cost you money, but it could save you from future costs. A new campaign aimed at stopping auto theft has launched in Grande Prairie, aimed at showing people how they can prevent someone from stealing their vehicle or valuables left inside.

963 vehicle thefts were reported in Grande Prairie last year, along with 1,117 thefts from vehicles. Kaylee Desfosses with Crime Prevention says it’s no secret GP has a vehicle theft problem.

“Our numbers are high and we are looking to reduce that. The number one things that people can do is locked their doors. You would be very surprised to know how many cases we have where the doors were completely left unlocked.”

All valuables should be taken out of a vehicle, as most thieves are smart enough to guess something is hidden under a jacket or blanket. Keys should also never be left in a vehicle while running, even if it is locked.

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Crime Prevention, Enforcement Services, RCMP and other volunteers spent the afternoon Friday checking out vehicles in the mall parking lot, and assessing for their owners whether or not they’re an easy target. They left a grade on each vehicle’s windshield, along with more tips on how to protect their belongings.

In total, around 750 notices were written, and 41 per cent of vehicles were considered “easy targets for thieves”. Just by looking inside, things like iPads, cell phones, purses, and confidential letters with personal information were spotted. Volunteers even saw new TVs, a computer monitor, knives, and expensive GPS and radar detector units.

Thefts involving vehicles are largely preventable. Desfosses says the main goal of the Help End Auto Theft (HEAT) Campaign is to cut down the massive number of thefts of and from vehicles.

“I think the frustration from the community is clear and we want to be clear that we’re doing more than just trying to enforce these things; we’re trying to prevent them from happening all together. We want to send the message to thieves that Grande Prairie citizens are not easy targets… so move along.”

Volunteers will be out again Saturday afternoon, trying to reach as many large parking lots as possible. They can be identified by their reflective vests and will be joined by a RCMP of Enforcement Services officer or Crime Prevention staff if you have questions.

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