Stella Sandyke, a volunteer at the Brookswood CPO, checks to see if the owner of this vehicle has left valuables in the truck. Sandyke is taking part in the RCMP’s Lock Out Auto Crime campaign.

Stella Sandyke, a volunteer at the Brookswood CPO, checks to see if the owner of this vehicle has left valuables in the truck. Sandyke is taking part in the RCMP’s Lock Out Auto Crime campaign.

Lock Out Auto Crime campaign now kicking into high gear

Volunteer ambassadors offer guidance for keeping thieves at bay

Lilianne Fuller calls it one of the dumbest things she has ever done.

But by relating her experience, she hopes others will learn from her costly mistake.

Fuller, a community volunteer, co-ordinator of the Downtown Langley Business Association’s Ambassadors program, and   chairman of this year’s Terry Fox Run in Langley City, is an avid walker.

Several years ago, she and her husband parked their pickup truck, black with tinted windows, at Houston Trail. After walking a few paces, she decided she didn’t want to carry her purse and returned to put it in the vehicle.

Whether someone saw her do that, or was intent on breaking into the pickup, she will never know.

When she and her husband returned from their walk less than an hour later, they discovered that a side window had been smashed, and her purse was stolen.

It contained one credit card, her SIN and CARE cards, driver’s licence, and $5.

Within an hour, the thief had bought $2,000 with her credit card.

Replacing her documents was no picnic, and after all these years Fuller is wondering if someone will still try to steal her name.

“I feel I handed them my whole identity,” she said.

Now she keeps only essentials in her car.

That’s what Langley RCMP’s Lock Out Auto Crime volunteers are urging in a renewed campaign to persuade people to act to deter thieves.

Thieves watch as GPS devices are placed in glove compartments, purses stored in trunks, police say.

Often, the thieves are taking only identification and credit cards from purses, but leave the purse behind and the owner may not realize a theft has occurred until much later.

The danger is identity theft. Once armed with a few cards, thieves are able to apply for and receive loans in your name, as well as additional credit cards and cash advances.

If you don’t notice the theft for a number of days, the damage done could be extensive.

Stella Sandyke and Eva Sears volunteer at the Brookswood CPO. On their patrols, they have seen purses, GPS devices, loose change, purses, briefcases, CDs, garage door openers and cell phones left in full view.

“Someone will break into a car for a dime,” Sandyke said.

Police say it’s not safe to assume that placing valuables in the trunk or glove compartment is safe because they are out of sight.

RCMP encourage car owners to take an inventory of their vehicles and remove valuables from an unoccupied vehicle.

Here are the RCMP’s suggestions to protect your vehicle from break-in:

• Install an immobilizer or a steering lock, and use them every time you park;

• Always close your windows and lock your doors;

• Take your possessions with you – don’t leave anything in your car;

• Keep spare keys in your wallet, not in your car;

• Avoid parking behind fences or hedges;

• Use a motion sensor light for your driveway. Elsewhere, park in well-lit areas near pedestrian traffic;

• After opening an automatic gate to underground parking, watch for thieves waiting to slip inside. Wait for the gate to close behind you;

• Engrave your stereo and other on-board valuables with your driver’s licence number, and

• When fueling your vehicle, ensure that you have your vehicle’s key with you at all times and lock your vehicle when you go in to pay.