‘Lock it or lose it’: Warning issued as stolen vehicle rates soar in Alberta

Click to play video: 'AMA sends ‘Lock it or Lose it’ warning after stolen vehicle numbers in Alberta'
AMA sends ‘Lock it or Lose it’ warning after stolen vehicle numbers in Alberta
WATCH: The latest stats are not encouraging as the number of vehicle thefts in Alberta has grown by 17 per cent and Calgary is leading the way. Doug Vaessen reports. – Dec 8, 2023

The Alberta Motor Association says there has been a 17 per cent rise in stolen vehicles as an average of 57 vehicles were taken each day.

In a comparison of 2022 theft numbers, Alberta trailed only Saskatchewan for the province with the most thefts per population.

Alberta RCMP Staff Sgt. Luke Halvorson says especially in cold weather it’s vital motorists don’t leave keys in unlocked idling vehicles.

“We know that in the province of Alberta about 50 per cent of all vehicles are stolen with the keys when they are left running or the keys are inadvertently left in them.”

The AMA, in its Lock It or Lose It program, warns motorists to also not leave gifts in plain view.

Thefts of vehicles and from vehicles are growing at an alarming rate according to the AMA report which uses numbers provided by Statistics Canada.  Of the 20,725 thefts recorded in 2022  the highest total came from Calgary: 5,086.

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Edmonton recorded 4,854.

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Thefts from motor vehicles in 2022 also increased by 17 per cent over 2021 to 34,777, and again Calgary led the way at 13,417, about 2,000 more than Edmonton.

Halvorson says the increase in thefts is concerning for another reason.

”We know a stolen vehicle isn’t just a method of transportation. It’s used to commit other crimes like break and enters, robberies and worse.  The more we all can do to reduce auto theft, the safer our communities will be.”

Calgary resident Dorie Miller posted on Facebook this past summer saying her landlord left his truck overnight after he was helping landscape her yard.  It was gone by morning.

Dorie Miller took to Facebook to plea for help locating her landlord’s stolen truck. Facebook/Dorie Miller

“A really great guy he’s always helping the neighbours and everything.  I just felt so bad for him.” Miller told Global News. “And then we woke up in the morning and he was knocking on the door, and he was like where’s my truck.  They stole it.  And then we just found out it was recovered, stripped, in Silverado and they took everything out of it.”

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Halvorson says while most thefts are crimes of opportunity there is an alarming trend involving professional gangs.

“We still see a lot of vehicle thefts of opportunity by less sophisticated less organized thieves.  However we are seeing an increase in organized crime thefts where vehicles are being stolen for the purposes of being re-vinned (altering the vehicle identification number) and shipped overseas or sold to unsuspecting buyers.”

Miller says she feels awful a friend lost a truck and his tools while helping her.  She says she now triple checks that her vehicle is safe every time she leaves it.

“It is disappointing because this is where we live.  We are a really good close set of neighbours,”  Miller says. “And then somebody coming into your space and preying on you and taking your stuff that’s not really nice.”

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