April is automobile crime enforcement month, according to ICBC.
This year, the Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team (IMPACT), the province of British Columbia, and ICBC are asking vehicle owners to be proactive in preventing auto crime.
Langley RCMP Cpl. Kurt Neuman, Aldergrove’s community police liaison, partnered with ICBC community coordinator Donald Miller and another Langley officer, Cpl. Julie Bion.
The theme for this year: “check your doors, before they do.”
The trio began peering into vehicles parked at the Save-On-Foods parking lot just off Fraser Highway and 264th Street, last Thursday afternoon.
“While you’re out shopping [for groceries], the thieves are out shopping,” said Miller, a former RCMP and auto theft specialist.
The contingent approached shoppers in the community and warned them not to leave any belongings in their cars.
They also slid auto-theft prevention pamphlets into windshields of parked vehicles.
Within 15 minutes of their parking lot foot patrol, the three-person team discovered a total of $5 in change that was visible from outside vehicles.
Miller noted that even the smallest amount of visible money is a considerable temptation for prowling thieves.
“It only takes a few smash-and-grabs for a thief to collect the $10 they need to buy their dope,” Miller elaborated.
The team also came across five garage door openers in the lot – which, when coupled with driver registration forms that list a home address, create a viable opportunity for theft at home.
“Approximately 30 per cent of theft reported in Aldergrove is that of car theft,” Neuman said about monthly crime statistics since January.
“This is higher than most other districts in the Township,” he added.
Auto theft rates in town remained steady in the month of March – compared to February – with 17 reported vehicles being stolen. Of those, 13 were pickup trucks.
The trio was delighted when they came across three older model vehicles with steering wheel locks securing the vehicles.
“Now this car cannot be stolen,” Bion said about one of the vehicles – a 2004 Ford F250 truck.
“Bright steering wheel clubs act as a visible deterrent for thefts,” Neuman added.
Miller listed the vehicles at the greatest risk of being stolen. They include: pre-2000 Honda Civic, pre-1996 Honda Accord, pre-2000 Jeep Cherokee or Grand Cherokee, pre-2013 Ford Econoline E250, pre-1999 Honda CRV, pre-2006 Toyota Corolla and Dodge Caravans, pre-1996 Acura Integra and Ford F250 and 350 trucks manufactured before 2006.
Neuman will be giving away 50 free steering wheel locks to Aldergrove car owners with proof of valid registration for one of the at-risk vehicles.
The local anti-theft initiative is in partnership with ICBC.
On Sunday, April 28, the Aldergrove police liaison will attend the Country Classic car show at Aldergrove Community Secondary and distribute the clubs.
“You’ve got to use it though,” Miller said about the giveaway.
“We still see people who have parked and left their vehicles with the club sitting in the backseat,” he added.
For more information on how to best ward of thieves or to get a steering wheel lock, people can contact Cpl. Kurt Neuman through the Langley RCMP detachment at 604-532-3200.