For the next week, members of the Grande Prairie RCMP will be out in force to make sure residents are protecting themselves from becoming potential victims of vehicle theft as part of Operation Cold Start.
Mounties will be looking for unattended idling vehicles to determine if they are unlocked and/or have the keys in the ignition. If the owner is nearby, police will then make the effort to educate them on the various ways they can reduce the likelihood of being victimized.
Sgt. Shawn Graham vehicles left running outside of homes and stores are preventable crimes of opportunity, suggesting that leaving a vehicle unlocked makes it an easy target.
“Criminals seeing those things is going to now possibly influence whether they break into your vehicle or not if they see something in there that is out in the open that they can steal,” he adds.
Graham says things like remote starters, steering wheel locks, or simply bundling up and waiting for your car to warm up are great ways to prevent possible thefts. He says it’s also important for residents to report any theft incidents to police, as the partnership between the community and police is vital in keeping crime in check.
“If you have been a victim of vehicle theft, or there is some suspicious activity overall, we always encourage the public to phone us, because they’re the eyes and ears in the community,” he says.
“They can contribute to stopping crimes that happen, so certainly they can be a part of that solution.”
According to the online RCMP Crime Map, 13 instances of car thefts have been reported in the last two weeks in Grande Prairie.