As of Sept. 29, 2019, police have received 214 reports of stolen vehicles that were left idling outside of a residence, business or workplace.
It’s a crime that is typically precipitated by the arrival of cooler temperatures, though is increasingly becoming a trend that police are seeing throughout the year, says Const. David Castillo, of Southeast Division.
“Living in a winter city, we certainly understand,” says Const. Castillo. “The last thing anyone wants to do is enter a walk-in freezer when you sit in a frosty vehicle in the morning. Unfortunately, criminals with even colder hearts are waiting in the weeds nearby for unsuspecting citizens to leave their vehicles idling.
“It’s a common occurrence that is unfortunately trending in the wrong direction. Frankly, we need the cooperation of our citizens to avoid taking shortcuts.”
Castillo and his patrol colleagues across the city are also seeing another concerning trend – people who leave their idling vehicles unlocked.
“You’re serving up your vehicle on a platter for criminals,” exclaimed Castillo. “Whether you’re simply running into a convenience store for two minutes, or back into your house to quickly warm up, it only takes criminals seconds to make off with your vehicle.”
“These stolen vehicles are then often used to perpetrate other crimes, leaving a wake of carnage and destruction across the city behind them, and putting the lives of other citizens at risk.”
Edmonton neighbourhoods hit increasingly hard with theft of idling vehicles over the last several years include Central McDougall, McCauley, Boyle Street, Downtown area and Queen Mary Park.
Table 1: ‘Idling Vehicles Stolen’ by Year in Edmonton since 2016
Tips to prevent Vehicle Theft
Do not leave your vehicle running - Under no circumstances should you leave your vehicle unattended while running with the key in the ignition. NOTE: Remote car starters are not a problem; they are designed to shut off if attempts are made to steal the vehicle.
No Spare Keys - Do not leave a spare key hidden in the vehicle. Thieves look for spare keys, and once they break into your vehicle, they know all the hiding spots. You can get a spare key holder for your wallet or purse.
Lock Up Your Vehicle - Always check that the doors, windows, and sun roof are shut and locked when you park your vehicle. Leave your vehicle in a locked garage where possible. Lock your vehicle even when it is in the locked garage.
Be aware of where you park - park in parking lots that have more than one of the following:
- Security cameras;
- Security patrolling the parking lot;
- Someone working at an entrance/exit booth;
- A gated parking lot that needs a pass to get in and out;
- Well lit;
- A busy parking lot with lots of people coming and going or an area where there are lots of vehicles or pedestrians passing by.
Treat Your Keys Like Cash – Don’t leave keys in places where they are easy to snatch, such as a gym locker, on your desk at work, visible in an open purse or unattended in a shopping cart. Thieves will grab and go, then head out to the parking lot and push the button on your key fob until they find your car.
Use a Steering Wheel Locking Device (e.g. The Club) - A well-secured car will deter thieves. There are other devices available to consumers to stop thieves from easily stealing your vehicle. See your local automotive stores for details.
Do not leave items in your vehicle - Thieves can be attracted to your car because personal items are left in plain sight. Never leave anything in your vehicle,including loose change, cell phones, CDs, cameras, clothing, sunglasses, cigarettes, lighters, and any other items.
Install a Remote Car Starter - Remote starters are designed to shut off if anyone attempts to drive the vehicle without a key. This will allow you to warm up your car without risk of theft.