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Protect yourself against smash and grab thefts

It only takes seconds for a thief to smash a car window and make off with your valuables.

It was this message the RCMP and the Alberta Motor Association was hammering home on Thursday morning with a smash and grab demonstration.

With rising temperatures, these types of thefts spike as well.

But they are easily preventable.

This demonstration was part of National Crime Prevention Week events, which run from through Saturday.

“All it takes is 20 seconds to get into a vehicle,” said Wendy Mah, the AMA crime prevention co-ordinator. “All we’re trying to encourage people to do is take an extra five to 10 seconds when they’re leaving their vehicle to make sure they’ve done four things: Roll up their windows, lock their doors, take their keys, and hide or remove all valuables. You do that and you’re going to prevent most vehicle theft crimes from happening to you.”

According to the RCMP, there are six reports of smash and grabs in the city every day and there were more than 2,100 in 2013.

Const. Derek Turner showed how easy it is for a thief to smash a window and walk away with the valuables left in plain view in a car. All it took was one swing with a claw hammer and the front windows came down.

The most sought-after valuables are electronics, and thieves always have their eyes open for prescription medication, wallets and loose change. Banking and personal information are also an easy grab.

All of those items are easy to store away.

“In the warmer months, it does increase and around Christmas time when people are leaving their gifts, etc., visible and piling them up,” said Cpl. Leanne Molzhan. “Warmer months means people are out and enjoying the weather and it leads to more crime.”

Some people do find comfort in car alarms, but Mah said they provide a false sense of security, especially considering how little time it takes for someone to make off with whatever is sitting in the front seat of the car.

“Think about all the times you’ve gone to a shopping centre or a movie theatre, and you’ve heard a car alarm and you’ve kept on walking. We’re kind of desensitized to that kind of thing,” said Mah. “Car thieves are trying to draw the least amount of attention to themselves and they’re looking for that moment of vulnerability, which is why we encourage people to be a little more vigilant.”

Mah said the vehicles most often targeted in Red Deer for theft of are Ford F250 and F350s from 2008 and earlier, while Honda Civics always have a high rate of theft due to their vulnerability and sheer numbers.

AMA encourages people who have these vehicles from 2008 or older to take them to a dealership and get an aftermarket immobilizer installed, which requires the use of a key to actually drive the vehicle.

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