Parksville Qualicum Beach News

Theft from vehicles on the rise

Have you had your vehicle broken into lately? If so, you're not alone.

As Oceanside RCMP Corporal Jesse Foreman points out, there has been a recent spike in thefts from vehicles in Oceanside.

"In 2012, the Oceanside RCMP received 240 reports of theft from vehicles," he said. "The start of 2013 looks as though this crime trend is continuing."

This area isn't unique in this regard.

The Insurance Corporation has labeled February as Auto Crime Enforcement Month.

According to a release from ICBC, police have made great strides in dealing with auto crime, thanks to their bait car program. Since it was introduced in 2003, auto theft has dropped by 73 per cent in the province and in 2012 and vehicle break-ins have dropped by 62 per cent.

The bait car program isn't the only reason. Legislation  requiring all new vehicles to have immobilizers has also played a role, they said.

New for this year, B.C.'s bait car program, run by the Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team (IMPACT), includes bait property to help prevent theft from vehicles.

Bait cars use audio and video technology that allows E-Comm 9-1-1 to monitor real-time activity and help the police catch thieves breaking into vehicles.

The police can't do it all by themselves however. Foreman stressed the need for vehicle owners to take some responsibility for keeping their cars and its contents secure.

"Please take the time to ensure your vehicle is locked and free of valuables such as change, electronics and sunglasses," he said.

As a public service, the District 69 Citizens on Patrol will be making foot patrols to hand out information and tips on how to combat and deter this very preventable crime.

Here are a few tips to help protect your vehicle from auto crime, courtesy of ICBC:

• If you have an older vehicle without an immobilizer, use an anti-theft device.

• Park in secure, well-lit areas.

• Remove your valuables.

• Always lock doors and close windows, even if you're just away from your vehicle for a few minutes.

• Keep your garage door opener out of sight.

• If you're parking on the street outside your home, take your garage door opener with you.

• Wait for the garage door gate to close behind you.

• Don't store your spare key — or your spouse's spare key — in your vehicle.

• Remove your valet key and give it to your parking attendant.

• Never leave your keys unguarded in a gym or restaurant. Keep your key with you or locked in a secure place.

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