In a world of high-tech, electric and self-driving vehicles, basic advice like checking that your car doors are locked, may still be your best chance against auto theft.
April is Auto Crime Enforcement Month, and the Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team (IMPACT), Government of BC, and ICBC are reminding vehicle owners to add basic auto crime safety measures to their daily routines.
“Lock before you walk” –is a reminder for vehicle owners to employ those classic safety tips whenever your vehicle is parked.
- Lock your vehicle?
- Remove or hide all valuables and belongings?
- Ensure keys are with you and not left in vehicle?
- Park in a well-lit, high traffic area?
- Use an immobilizer (such as a steering wheel lock)?
“While newer vehicles have some excellent anti-theft technology, there are still organized crime groups that manage to get ahead of the technology,” explains Sergeant Bob Harris of IMPACT.
That includes sophisticated and well-organized groups from Ontario and Quebec that are using technology to program key fobs on newer vehicles. “With the supply pressures in the auto industry, luxury vehicles are in demand in other countries and there are determined thieves who are highly motivated to overcome those protections.”
Those organized crime groups have started to make their way to British Columbia. In May, 2022, IMPACT and several partner agencies arrested three men and recovered seven Lexus RX350 vehicles stolen from the Lower Mainland. Land Rovers and high-end Ford pick-up trucks were also targeted last spring and summer with a Raptor truck finally being recovered in the Port of Dubai. “Some of the best advice I can give motorists, is to check that your vehicles are locked, your keys are in your pocket and you’ve taken out any valuables. Good advice never gets old,” says Sgt. Harris.
“Any unlocked vehicle is a target for auto crime,” said Shabnem Afzal, director of Road Safety at ICBC. “Always lock your doors and use an immobilizer or steering wheel lock to reduce your risk. Don’t forget to remove any valuables including smartphones, laptops, backpacks and packages.”
Statistically, auto crime has been trending down in British Columbia. From 2012 to 2019 the statistics were fairly consistent with a 16% decrease since the pandemic. “The drop doesn’t mean we should no longer be vigilant,” says Sgt. Harris.
“Last year, we were able to recover or intercept 33 of 52 (63%) luxury vehicles stolen by these organized crime groups in the Lower Mainland prior to them being shipped out of the country, or reaching their final destination in Africa or the Middle East. The combined value of the vehicles recovered is in excess of $2.5,” notes Sgt. Harris.
Auto Crime Enforcement Month is an annual event, supported by IMPACT, the BC Government and ICBC. Each year, a concerted effort is made to promote awareness of auto crime to try and prevent vehicle owners from becoming auto crime victims.
For more information on IMPACT, prevention tips, and a list of Wanted Auto Crime Offenders in BC, please visit www.baitcar.com
IMPACT is an integrated unit, currently made up of members from the RCMP, Vancouver Police, Delta Police, New Westminster Police, Transit Police and ICBC Special Investigations Unit.