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Colder weather and more idling vehicles result in a spike in car thefts, says Red Deer RCMP

Many trucks popular with Red Deer drivers are on the Top 10 list of most stolen vehicles
Red Deer RCMP are warning motorists not to leave vehicles idling and unoccupied. Thefts tend to spike with the return of colder weather. (Advocate file photo)

As winter temperatures drop and more vehicles are left idling, Red Deer RCMP is bracing for rising stolen vehicle reports.

“We are creatures of comfort and we like getting into a warm vehicle when it’s cold outside,” said Corp. Mike Evans of community policing.

But comfort can come with a steep price since some Red Deerians will exit a mall or their home to find their parked and running vehicle is not where they left it.

Last January, 33 vehicles were stolen in Red Deer during one seven-day cold snap. Twenty of these had been left idling when thieves either opened an unlocked door or broke into them and drove away.

Some of these vehicles were eventually recovered, while others were used to commit other crimes, including dangerous driving.

A Top 10 stolen vehicles list in Canada report released this week includes popular high-end pick-up trucks driven by many Albertans.

Ford F150 trucks made between 2015 and 2020 are the third most favourite vehicle of car thieves on a list compiled by Equite Association.

Recent models of the Ram 1500 Series (No. 6) and Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/Sierra 1500 (No. 7) are also on the list compiled by the association that tracks insurance fraud to protect Canadians.

Recent-model SUVs top the most stolen vehicle list. The Honda CR-V is No. 1 and Lexus RX Series is No. 2. Other listed cars are Honda Civics, Toyota Highlanders, Honda Accords, Jeep Grand Cherokees and Toyota RAV4s.

According to the Equite report, some thieves “exploit technology” by connecting to a vehicle’s diagnostic port and reprogramming key fobs. Organized crime networks are making off with vehicles in greater volume in places around Montreal for export internationally.

But Evans believes most vehicle thefts in Red Deer are crimes of opportunity.

Thieves will drive around looking for idling vehicles. If the car doors are left unlocked, it’s an easy theft. Even if vehicles are idling while locked, windows can be broken to gain access, said Evans.

He suggested motorists not leave vehicles running while unoccupied. If drivers don’t want to sit in a cold vehicle for the few minutes it takes to warm up the engine, he recommends installing a steering wheel lock or car alarm to prevent theft.

Leaving a car idling for long stretches in a mall parking lot is not only risky, in terms of car theft, but also bad for the environment, as well as the pocket-book with gas now costing $1.60 a litre, noted Evans.

With the holiday season approaching, Evans cautions motorists to be careful about leaving valuables, such as electronic purchases, in plain sight inside a vehicle. Hide them under a blanket or leave them in the trunk while you continue shopping, he added.

Also, be cautious about leaving spare keys, registration documents, or garage door openers inside vehicles since these can later be used by thieves to break into your home.

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Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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