Red Deer, Alberta – On October 30, Red Deer RCMP and Red Deer Citizens on Patrol (COP) volunteers did visual inspections on parked vehicles at Parkland Mall as part of the ongoing Lock it or Lose it public education campaign; volunteers did not try doors or touch vehicles, other than to leave a report card at the vehicle, flagging temptations that might encourage a thief to break into the vehicle or try to steal it. Results from the day were not encouraging.
COP volunteers and one RCMP officer checked 155 vehicles parked in the lot located on the east side of Parkland Mall. Constable Derek Turner of the Red Deer RCMP notes that only 55 of the 155 vehicles checked that day received a thumbs up for the care drivers took to protect themselves from crime – that means only 35% of drivers in the lot took action that day to target harden their vehicles. Among the vehicles checked, two had visible keys left in the vehicle, 25 drivers left possessions or cash in plain view, 10 left electronics on visible display, and 17 had a garage door opener in plain view.
RCMP flag visible garage door openers as a temptation because thieves will smash vehicle windows in order to steal garage door openers, which they can then use to access the garage – and the residence itself, if a connecting door is left unlocked.
“The numbers are disappointing – cash, purses, cell phones and other valuables were left in plain sight in almost a third of the vehicles checked, as well as an unsecured dirt bike in the back of a truck that could have been stolen in seconds,” says Constable Turner. “Many smash and grab crimes are preventable, and on that day volunteers saw many clear cases of people not meeting the police halfway. And that people continue to leave keys in their vehicles is astonishing. Stolen vehicles are a danger to everyone on the road, and they are often used to commit even more crimes. If you make it easy for a thief to take your vehicle, you’re endangering your community and contributing to the cycles of criminal activity.”
During Lock it or Lose it checks, vehicle owners also get reminders about expired or soon-to-expire registration, and volunteers flag issues such as cracked windshields or a note that the vehicle appeared to have been left unlocked.
The Lock it or Lose it campaign is part of ongoing crime reduction work by Red Deer RCMP and local crime prevention agencies to educate Red Deerians about ways they can avoid being victims of crime. Red Deer RCMP and COP conducted five Lock it or Lose it events in 2017 and five so far in 2018, making educational contact with the drivers of 2,010 vehicles regarding their crime prevention choices.
Cst. Derek Turner
Red Deer RCMP