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Didsbury RCMP urge public vigilance to prevent vehicle thefts

'Lot of thefts' when people start their vehicles to warm them up
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DIDSBURY - Area residents, whether living in towns or in the country, can play an important role in preventing vehicle thefts, says Didsbury RCMP Staff Sgt. Chad Fournier.

A key message is that motorists shouldn’t be leaving their vehicles running while unattended, he said.

“I think the public needs to be aware that a lot of thefts are occurring when they start their vehicles to warm them up,” said Fournier. “We are getting calls of people going out and starting their vehicles and then walking away from them. It’s a crime of opportunity.

“People are coming by and jumping into those vehicles and driving away. The message is don’t leave your vehicle running or stay inside it or purchase a command start (remote control starting when the vehicle remains locked).

As well as locking their vehicles, people can also help by reporting suspicious activities to police, he said.

“We always encourage people to report to RCMP,” he said. “We have lots of crime analysts who work with those reports and they can make linkages between different crimes. If it is suspicious at all, call the RCMP.”

Asked what may be motivating vehicle thefts in the district, he said, “I think for the most part people are using them for transportation or to commit other crimes, like break and enters and theft.

“They will steal a vehicle and steal a licence plate from another vehicle and then they will go commit crimes from there.”

Most vehicle thefts being committed in the district are being committed by individuals, not by organized groups, he said.

Vehicles on farm properties are equally vulnerable to thefts, he said.

“We always recommend that people lock their vehicles wherever they are, including on farms. You’d be surprised how many vehicles are stolen that are not locked.”

The detachment has seen a similar number of vehicle thefts in 2019 as in 2018, but far fewer than in 2017. He declined to say how many thefts there have been in the district in 2019.

“Alberta as a whole is seeing a lot of vehicle theft. It’s not just in Olds-Didsbury, but everywhere,” he said.