For most British Columbians, personal vehicles are a trusted and necessary part of daily lives. You use them to run errands, get to work and for personal travel. Car thieves are no different, except they want to use your car too.
This April is Auto Crime Enforcement Month in B.C. and the Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team (IMPACT), the provincial government and Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) are encouraging vehicle owners to help protect their property and "Treat your keys like cash".
"Our call to action – Treat Your Keys Like Cash – is a reminder to all vehicle owners to be vigilant about safeguarding their vehicle keys, fobs and personal property," said Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton. "We all need to do our part to help IMPACT and other police agencies to protect the gains we’ve made in reducing auto crime since 2003."
"Unfortunately, after 10 years of declining auto thefts in British Columbia, we’ve seen the number of thefts increase in 2014," said Inspector Peter Jadis, Officer in Charge of IMPACT. "Auto Crime Enforcement Month is an opportunity for us to remind people about the importance of protecting their vehicles."
Inspector Jadis explains that vehicle security technology has evolved over the past 10 years and car thieves know that it’s extremely difficult to steal a vehicle without the keys, which is why they’re looking to steal keys themselves.
"People will leave their keys, smart keys and valet keys in desks, lockers, or even in the console of their vehicle. This defeats the built in security features and allows thieves to simply drive away. This is why we’re encouraging people to treat their keys like cash and protect them accordingly," said Inspector Jadis.
In addition to protecting vehicle keys, vehicle owners are encouraged to take additional safe guards to protect their vehicle. These include:
- Do not leave your vehicle unattended while it is running
- Do not leave your smart keys, valet or emergency keys in the vehicle while it’s unoccupied
- Remember that your vehicle is a display case for thieves. Items that you overlook as trivial such as loose change, bags, garage door openers and mail may have value to a thief. Keep items out of sight and secure your vehicle when you leave it
- Use an anti-theft device such as a steering wheel lock or an after-market immobilizer, especially on older model vehicles
"With auto crime on the rise in B.C., we’re urging customers to keep their keys secure at all times, lock their vehicle whenever it’s unattended and remove electronics and other valuables," said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC's director responsible for road safety. "We'll continue to invest in auto crime because less crime benefits everyone and helps control claims costs and keep rates as low as possible."
For more information on how to protect your vehicle and to see the “Top 10 most stolen vehicles” and “Top 10 items stolen from vehicles”, please visit www.baitcar.com.
Corporal Rob Stephenson
Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team (IMPACT)