The cold snap means more unattended vehicles are being left running to warm up, and thieves have not wasted any time taking advantage.
From Oct. 1 to Wednesday, 52 vehicles — 17 with the keys inside — were reported stolen to Red Deer RCMP.
The spike has prompted police to once again warn drivers about the perils of leaving idling vehicles unattended, which accounts for about one-third of thefts.
“Vehicle thefts of this kind are crimes of opportunity and are preventable,” said Insp. Holly Glassford.
“What is most concerning is how the individual may use the vehicle after stealing it. Our data shows that stolen vehicles are often used to carry out additional crimes in the community.”
Police say whether parking outside your home or in a commercial area, drivers should use caution, because thieves often need only seconds to make off with a vehicle.
RCMP offer the following tips to avoid becoming a vehicle theft statistic:
• Avoid idling as much as possible.
• Never leave an idling vehicle unoccupied, even when it is locked.
• Use a steering wheel lock to deter thieves.
• Never leave spare keys or garage door openers in or around your vehicle.
• Never leave children or pets in an idling vehicle.
• Never leave a wallet or purse inside an idling vehicle.
The public is encouraged to report suspicious activity to the Red Deer RCMP by calling the non-emergency complaint line at 403-343-5575.