Lock it or lose it.
That’s what the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) wants the public to remember when parking their cars during the holiday season.
Chief Jeff McGuire of the Niagara Regional Police Service is president of the OACP.
“The things that are left in cars … present opportunities for criminals,” McGuire said. “If you have things in your vehicle you have to store, make sure they’re locked away in the trunk or hidden from view.
“I’m always amazed at the amount of property that is visible inside vehicles. Laptops, cell phones, coins.”
Some of this may seem small scale these petty crimes feed other crimes, McGuire said.
This year’s campaign was kicked off Nov. 24 at the Scarborough GO Station. If you’re a commuter who left your door unlocked that morning, or even worse your window open, you likely got a wake up call.
But don’t worry, no one is going to rifle through anyone’s car. Police quickly perform an inspection and leave a note behind to let you know if your vehicle was vulnerable to theft.
This campaign is a team effort, with the OACP partnering with the Toronto Police, GO Transit, and other campaign supporters.
Steve Harvey, Inspector of Operational with GO Transit noted that GO Transit is also working with the Barrie Police Services, South Simcoe Police and York Regional Police in surrounding GO stations.
“We have over 70,000 parking spaces that are used every day by our commuters,” Harvey said. “We look at it (Lock It or Lose it) as an extremely important element of what we do out there to keep our customers safe.”
Many people keep their vehicle registration and insurance in the glove compartment of their car.
But the OACP recommend that people keep it with them, as well as other items with personal information like pink slips and credit card invoices to avoid identity theft.
According to the OACP, cases of identity theft and fraud have increased across Canada from 10,807 in 2010 to 11,594 in 2013 – an increase of 6 per cent.
Rick Dubin, vice president of Investigative Services at the Insurance Bureau of Canada, also noted the increase in auto theft in 2014. Dubin said that 73,964 were stolen across Canada, adding that more vehicles are being dismantled and shipped overseas.
“This is a busy time of year. It’s easy to be distracted and leave your vehicle unlocked or valuables in your car,” McGuire is quoted in a related media release.
“Take extra time to lock it down.”