How can you protect the contents of your car?
With almost a dozen car robberies from the parking lot at Glen Rouge Park over the past few months, visitors are beginning to get frustrated.
But police and car security experts say people can take measures to ensure the safety of their vehicle’s contents.
One of the most important things is to keep valuable items out of sight, says Gary Gomez, crime prevention officer at Toronto Police Service’s 42 Division.
“I would suggest people not leave anything in their cars at all,” he says, adding if it can’t be avoided, valuable items should be locked in the trunk of the car.
Even though criminals have been smashing car windows to steal things, using common sense and at least keeping car doors locked makes it more difficult for thieves to get in, Gomez says.
He pointed out that keeping loose change hidden is also a good idea because it can add up to a fair amount, making it attractive to robbers.
“If people throw their toonies into the change holder every time they get a coffee, those toonies can add up to $30-$40,” Gomez says.
Vince Macri, of Sound F-X Autosound Ltd., a Dupont Street shop that specializes in automobile alarm systems, agrees.
“Don’t show any change around the vehicle or anything else worth stealing,” Macri says.
Getting an alarm installed also makes people think twice about breaking a car’s windows to grab valuables, he says.
“The best thing would be an alarm with some sort of visual deterrent, something with a flashing LED light or something.”
That light lets robbers know the car has an alarm and they’ll be less likely to break into a vehicle that increases their chances of getting caught, Gomez says.
“[An alarm] makes such a ridiculous amount of noise that people can’t help but notice,” he says.
Gomez adds that thieves are likely targeting the main parking lot at Glen Rouge because it’s so isolated. While hikers or dog walkers are off enjoying the hilltop views the park offers, crooks have ample time to steal their possessions.
“How long does a nature hike take? About three hours? That’s up to three hours with no witnesses,” Gomez says.
42 Division has increased patrols in the area and progress is being made in the investigation.
Police are now trying to find out how the owner of a car used to transport items stolen from another vehicle in the park connects to the thefts. A hiker witnessed the crime and got the getaway car’s license plate number.
Though this progress is slow, it’s good that hikers are keeping their eyes open for shady people, Gomez says.
“People are being vigilant and observant in the park,” Gomez says. “They’re looking for suspicious activity and jotting down plate numbers and descriptions.”