Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff Idling thefts -0—- Susan has vehicle theft story—— A shopper at Clearview Market Square in Red Deer walks past two idling truck in the parking lot on Thursday. Several unoccupied running vehicles were spotted in the lot Thursday afternoon.

Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff Idling thefts -0—- Susan has vehicle theft story—— A shopper at Clearview Market Square in Red Deer walks past two idling truck in the parking lot on Thursday. Several unoccupied running vehicles were spotted in the lot Thursday afternoon.

Vehicle thefts spike in Red Deer as temperature drops

One-third of Alberta vehicles stolen were idling and unoccupied

With the return of cold temperatures, Red Deer RCMP are again seeing a sudden spike in thefts of unoccupied idling vehicles.

In the 24 hours up to Wednesday afternoon, there were six reports of motor vehicle theft. Four vehicles had been left running with the keys in the ignition. The other two had a spare set of keys or a fob in the vehicle.

“Vehicles left running and unattended present a crime of opportunity for criminals. It only takes a few seconds for a thief to drive away in an unlocked, running vehicle,” says Red Deer RCMP Cpl. Mike Evans.

Many vehicle thefts are reported in the morning, when cars are started and left to warm up. Whether parking outside your home or in a commercial area, drivers are encouraged to use caution.

Alberta RCMP estimates that about one-third of all vehicle thefts occur while a vehicle is idling and unoccupied.

RCMP have the following safety tips to prevent vehicle theft and protect yourself:

•Never leave keys in an unlocked, unoccupied vehicle.

•Avoid idling an unoccupied vehicle.

•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 valuables inside your vehicle.

•If you leave your vehicle registration and insurance in your vehicle, hide it in a location that a thief would be unlikely to find.

•Install an anti-theft system in your vehicle if it doesn’t have one. Thieves are reluctant to steal vehicles if they can be recovered quickly.

The public is encouraged to report suspicious activity to the Red Deer RCMP by calling the non-emergency complaint line at 403-343-5575. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online at www.P3Tips.com.