Provincial auto crimes continue to decline

As Crime Prevention Week ends, new figures show significant reductions in rates of auto-theft crimes.

As Crime Prevention Week ends, new figures show significant reductions in rates of auto-theft crimes.

In the first half of 2012, there’s been a 17 per cent drop in vehicle thefts throughout the province.

A decade ago, auto crime was on the rise and British Columbia had one of the highest rates of car theft in North America. But since the introduction of the bait car program in 2002, and with the efforts of police and community volunteers, vehicle thefts and break-ins have dropped by 74 per cent and 62 per cent respectively throughout the province.

“The decrease in auto crime is good news for British Columbians, but it’s still important for citizens to remain vigilant in protecting their vehicles from would-be thieves,” said Shirley Bond, provincial justice minister.

In Vernon, according to ICBC data, there were 18 per cent fewer vehicle thefts and 45 per cent fewer break-ins in the first six months of 2012 compared to 2011 and 73 per cent fewer vehicle thefts and 85 per cent fewer break-ins since the Bait Car was introduced in 2003.

Auto crime is still a problem however, and thieves look for easy targets.

If you own an older vehicle, there is a higher risk of it being stolen or broken into as older vehicles often don’t have an effective anti-theft device and are easy to steal.

Here are some tips from ICBC to help you protect your vehicle and belongings:

  • Use an anti-theft device and remove possessions from your vehicle – shopping bags, spare change, electronics, briefcases, and the vehicle’s spare keys;
  • Electronic immobilizers are the best protection. They’re hard-wired into vehicles and shut down the starter, ignition and/or fuel system. They require a special key or electronic device to start the engine and usually attach to your key ring;
  • Steering-wheel locks are a good visual deterrent for auto thieves but offer a lower form of protection;
  • Park in well-lit areas, near pedestrian traffic.
  • Keep your garage-door opener out of sight. If parking on the street outside your residence, take the garage-door opener with you.
  • Wait for the garage-door gate to close behind you when entering a parkade. Thieves could take this opportunity to slip inside.

ICBC and the B.C. government support programs to prevent auto crime in British Columbia such as Bait Car and the Stolen Auto Recovery programs as well as local initiatives such as NasKarz, which has helped to reduce auto crime for the past few years in Vancouver.

Crime Prevention Week runs from Nov. 1-7.