While names of officers working for the Trail RCMP have changed over the years, one very clear message from the detachment has remained — “Lock it or lose it.”
Not a week passes without reports of theft from unlocked cars, sometimes homes, hitting the weekly media brief issued by the Trail and Greater District police, always accompanied with a public warning to secure vehicles, car and house keys, and valuables.
In an effort to shine a light on proactive policing and cement this message, last week the Trail RCMP conducted an impromptu series of checks on vehicles parked in downtown Trail and Rossland.
Judging by the result, a lot of people don’t seem to be heeding law enforcement’s warning.
“Officers checked door handles of parked vehicles to see if the any of the vehicles were unlocked,” explains Sgt. Mike Wicentowich, Trail RCMP detachment commander.
“Officers discovered approximately 20 unlocked vehicles in Trail, and another 20 in Rossland,” he said.
“The officers also saw purses, wallets, computers, and other items of value left inside these unsecured vehicles that were visible to any passerby.”
Now, the detachment is advising the public that leaving a parked vehicle unlocked is a regulatory offence under the BC Motor Vehicle Act.
The fine associated with this violation is $81.
Police, however, issued no fines last week as the project was meant to serve as a preventive warning for the public.
While losing valuables is never welcome, making it easy for a criminal to steal a car can lead to harmful, maybe even life-threatening consequences.
“Recently, a criminal drove a stolen vehicle down the wrong way of a highway in an attempt to get the police to stop following it,” Wicentowich says. “Car thieves know if they recklessly put others at danger on the road that the police will have to cease following,” he adds.
“Stolen vehicles are often used to facilitate other criminal offences, like hauling away stolen property in break and enters, or as a get-away vehicle.”
Overall, Wicentowich says this recent proactive policing measure was well received by most.
But next time? The offenders may not get off scot-free.
“We continue to have a rash of theft from vehicles and vehicles thefts,” Wicentowich said. “We would like the public to take vehicle security seriously in order to prevent a larger tragedy from occurring.”
Bank and credit cards stolen from vehicles are used in local ‘tap’ frauds, further exacerbating the problem associated to careless vehicle and key management, he cautions.
“We may issue $81 fines in our next campaign as a few members of the public have stated they would not lock their vehicles in any circumstance.”
According to the BC Motor Vehicle Act: a vehicle must be equipped with a lock or other device to prevent the unauthorized use of the motor vehicle; and a driver must not permit a motor vehicle to stand unattended or parked unless the driver has locked it or made it secure in a manner that prevents unauthorized use.