Stolen vehicles becoming a bigger problem in Edmonton

Click to play video: 'Edmonton police sound the alarm over rising auto thefts'
Edmonton police sound the alarm over rising auto thefts
WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton police say auto theft is up 41 per cent in Alberta's capital. Criminals are seizing the opportunity to switch VIN numbers and make some quick cash and as Kent Morrison reports, it's costing everyone – May 18, 2017

The Edmonton Police Service, the RCMP and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) have partnered to launch the “Lock Out Auto Theft” educational campaign to help Edmontonians protect themselves from the rise of auto thefts in the city.

The campaign includes social media posts, a website and new video featuring aerial police footage and advertising.

READ MORE: Edmonton police encouraging drivers to remove valuables from vehicles: ‘It is a big problem’

Edmonton police statistics suggest auto theft rose 41 per cent in Edmonton in 2016 compared to the previous year. There were 4,865 vehicles stolen in Edmonton last year, while there were 3,453 stolen in 2015.

Police said 1,260 vehicles were stolen from January through April of this year, which is similar to last year.

The IBC estimates that 60 per cent of stolen vehicles had keys inside.

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“Our members are working hard not only to catch thieves in action but also to identify and recover stolen vehicles, but we need citizens’ help,” Det. Dwayne Karpo said.

“It may seem obvious, but the majority of vehicles that are stolen have keys inside, are left unlocked or left running. We’re asking Edmontonians to lock their vehicles, take their keys and remove their valuables.”

READ MORE: Edmonton police arrest Alberta man wanted for vehicle thefts, stolen ID

IBC acting director of investigative service Alfred Normand called a stolen car “like a loaded gun.”

“Every year, many people are injured or die as a direct result of auto theft,” Normand said.

Police said stolen vehicles are often used in other crimes, like drug trafficking, break-and-enters, robberies and hit-and-runs.

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