SASKATOON – A new Saskatoon police task force is hoping to put a dent in car thefts in the city by focussing on repeat offenders.
The issue made headlines after a stolen truck slammed into two vehicles at the intersection of 22nd Street West and Avenue M on May 5.
Two teens in one vehicle were killed while a third was taken to hospital with serious injuries.
Chrystal Cheyann Peeteetuce, 21, and a 17-year-old female, who cannot be named under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, are facing numerous charges.
The pair are accused of stealing the truck after the keys were left in the ignition, a growing problem police are seeing.
Staff Sgt. Keith Briant said 70 per cent of vehicle thefts in the city are because the keys are left in, or near, the vehicles.
That was the case on Thursday morning after police arrested two women when they were found with a stolen vehicle.
The keys had been left in the ignition.
“Criminals are shopping for vehicles and they’re looking inside vehicles to see if there is anything to steal,” said Briant.
Along with looking for valuables, the thieves are looking for the keys, and if found, the vehicle is taken.
“It’s a joy ride, it’s conveyance to get them around to different parts of the city to continue on with their criminal way.”
According to police crime stats, there were 95 reported vehicle thefts in the city between April 8 and May 8. Of those, 25 were in the past week.
Police currently have their eye on 50 people who have continually been dealt with for thefts over the past few months.
That includes youth.
Saskatoon police Chief Clive Weighill stated earlier this week that 39 youths have been arrested for vehicle theft since April 1.
“When we’re talking about the youth or the young offender, they get numerous chances and they continue on their way,” said Briant.
So how can people help stop thefts?
Briant said not to leave items like GPS units or MP3 players, loose coins or other valuables in vehicles.
And to take the key out of the ignition and not leave it near the vehicle.
With files from Melissa Nakhavoly