A sudden and substantial jump in vehicle theft cases added a note of urgency to the annual roll out of Auto Crime Enforcement Month in Langley.
“Unfortunately, the statistics are creeping up again,” Attorney General and Justice Minister Suzanne Anton told an April 2 press conference.
Anton was unveiling posters of the top 10 most wanted car thieves inside the high-security hangar that houses police helicopter Air One at the Langley airport.
Police statistics show vehicle theft jumped by a third (32.64 per cent) in B.C. in 2014 after several years of steady declines.
In the Lower Mainland, the number of vehicle thefts rose 39 per cent, to 9,399 incidents.
That works out to an average of roughly 25 thefts every day.
No single reason was given for the increase at the press conference, but both Anton and Inspector Peter Jadis, the officer in charge of the Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team (IMPACT) focused on an increasingly popular tactic thieves are using to steal cars and trucks.
Instead of forcing their way into a vehicle and using tools to start it, they are stealing keys and the wireless fobs many vehicles use instead of door keys and sometimes ignition keys.
Jadis said one in five vehicles are stolen with their owners’ keys.
“People will leave their keys, smart keys and valet keys in desks, lockers, or even in the console of their vehicle,” Jadis said.
“This defeats the built-in security features and allows thieves to simply drive away.”
This year’s auto theft month message is “treat your keys like cash”
One of the top 10 car thieves is wanted for alleged crimes in Langley.
There are five outstanding warrants for Laetitia Angelique Acera, 22, who is wanted by police in Langley, New Westminster, Surrey, Ridge Meadows, and Burnaby on charges that include possession of stolen property, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, break and enter, resisting arrest, and fraud.
IMPACT has issued a list of tips to discourage vehicle theft:
• 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
• For more information on theft prevention and to see the “Top 10 most stolen vehicles” and “Top 10 items stolen from vehicles” visit www.baitcar.com.