Saskatoon police finding unique ways to deal with auto theft
More than two vehicles a day are stolen from Saskatoon streets, 1,007 so far this year. In Saskatchewan, there have been 3,181 auto thefts in 2016 and it comes at a cost.
“On average, SGI pays approximately $11 million each year in auto theft claims in the province,” SGI spokesperson Kelley Brinkworth said.
In 60 per cent of all auto theft cases province-wide, the keys were left inside the vehicle when it was nabbed.
“Would we leave the keys of our door in our home while we’re sleeping at night? Probably not,” Staff Sgt. AJ Chevli, with the economic crime unit for the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS), said.
Catching thieves in the act can not only be difficult, but dangerous, so the SPS has decided to take a more proactive approach when it comes to this type of crime and so far it seems to be working.
In August, the force launched the Auto Theft Reduction Project – an auto theft sting of sorts using two vehicles provided by SGI salvage.
Equipped with cameras and an alarm, the vehicles that don’t actually operate were then parked in auto theft “hot spots” throughout the city and a live feed was triggered when someone got inside.
“They’re able to see a live feed as to what is happening out in the vehicle so they’re able to dispatch units with complete physical description of someone, their clothing, what they’re doing, what time they left the vehicle then patrol officers respond,” Chevli said.
During the 14-week period, there were 11 incidents leading to the arrest of 13 people. According to Chevli, the suspects were either still at the planted vehicle when patrol officers located them or within a half city block of the vehicle.
“The charges range from attempted theft of motor vehicle, theft because some of them were stealing items from inside the vehicle, mischief, carry concealed weapons as well as a number of warrants have been executed.”
All 13 accused, said Chevli, were adults and familiar to law enforcement so it wasn’t like the crime was a one-off.
The bait cars will remain on city streets into the New Year and the results of the project reviewed.
In the meantime, police continue to stress that the danger when thieves get a hold of your keys is the vehicle is often used to commit other crimes and once recovered, weapons typically are as well.
“We’re trying to eliminate one portion of that triangle.”
© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.