An increase in reports of thefts from automobiles and garage break-and-enters has the Edmonton Police Service reminding the public to take proactive action against theft.
Between May of this year and July, 107 garage break-ins and a whopping 474 thefts from vehicles were reported to the southeast division of the EPS.
Residents of neighbourhoods with a high number of break-ins are encouraged to take neighbourly action and report any suspicious individuals or vehicles. Police say crimes such as these are often chance encounters.
“It really is a crime of opportunity,” Cst. Jeff Eichmann said at a safety walk in Bonnie Doon on Thursday. “A lot of these people are just looking for high-ticket items, or things that are in the vehicle, just out in the open.”
“These types of things should be taken out of the car, and the car needs to be locked.”
According to police, thieves will often simply try car doors –sometimes 50 to 100 a night – until they find unlocked vehicles.
The EPS is also encouraging the public to participate in the social media crime prevention campaign, #9PMRoutine. The hashtag serves as a reminder to take small precautions that are commonsense, but can be overlooked.
Eichmann explained how petty theft of certain items can create more crime.
“Wallets are left in there, garage door openers. Sometimes they give access to garages with high-ticket items,” Eichmann said. “Wallets as well, people take those, they get the I.D., credit cards and they go on sprees with the credit cards. So it’s a ripple effect for us.”
He said that in order to return stolen items, or generate evidence that will hold up in court, police end up doing a lot of legwork.
“Somebody steals a wallet from a car, gets the credit cards. They go to numerous businesses, tap away and there could be 20 or 25 businesses that have had use of the stolen credit card. So now, police officers have to go to each site to see if they can get the surveillance video. It takes a lot of time.”
One proactive step, in addition to removing valuables from vehicles and placing curtains on garage windows to prevent “window shopping,” is to inventory valuable equipment inside garages.
“Anything in your garage, any type of equipment, stereo equipment, tools – it’s always nice to document any serial numbers,” Eichmann recommended. “That provides us some help with tracking down these items and returning them.”
Other crime prevention tips for homeowners recommended by police include:
- Keep your home, garage and shed doors closed and locked while working in the yard
- Don’t leave equipment, tools, bikes or other items unattended in your yard or driveway
- Install deadbolt locks on your home and garage doors for added security
- Close house and garage window coverings to prevent thieves from looking inside for items to steal
- Close your garage door after driving in, and ensure it is closed when you are driving away
- Help police track stolen items by recording the make, model and serial number of “big-ticket” items in your home or garage. This helps police return stolen property to its owner. You can also engrave your name on items, keep the receipts and register items through their warranties, or take photos of items. Criminals do not want to be caught with stolen property, and it prevents items from being sold
- Report stolen items to police as soon as possible
- Be aware of people walking, riding bicycles, or driving vehicles in your neighbourhood
To report any suspicious activity or individuals in your neighbourhood, contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online.