More than 500 idling vehicles spotted in Calgary in just four days
Hundreds of vehicles are left running, unattended, every day in Calgary.
That’s the finding after just four days of a Calgary police crime prevention program called Operation Cold Start.
Officers on patrol from Monday to Thursday this week found 544 vehicles warming up, with no one inside and the keys in the ignition.
This is the second year police officers have spent time looking for cars left running across the city. The high number of related thefts is prompting them to once again warn owners of the risks and educate them about auto thefts.
In four days this week, 16 vehicles were stolen while left running.
In one case, police said a vehicle owner in Sunalta left his pickup warming up outside his home and came out as a thief was driving away.
Police say he jumped in the pickup bed forced his way into the cab and fought with the thief, eventually stopping the truck at 10 Avenue and Crowchild Trail.
The thief ran away and couldn’t be located after police arrived. The owner had minor injuries.
Police say vehicle thefts are often crimes of opportunity and thieves regularly search neighbourhoods for cars left running.
“Many of the vehicle thefts we are seeing, where the keys have been left in the vehicle, are completely preventable,” District 5 A/Staff Sgt. Lon Brewster said.
“On average, 16 vehicles are stolen every day in Calgary.
“With the amount of resources that it takes to respond, track and investigate each stolen vehicle, and the dangerous driving that offenders are demonstrating, we need to work with the community to prevent these thefts in the first place.”
Police are giving the following tips to Calgarians that want to warm up their vehicle on a cold day:
- Never leave a running vehicle, where the keys are in the ignition, unattended
- Never leave running vehicles, where the vehicle has been started with a keyless ignition or push-button start, unattended
- Use a remote starter whenever possible and keep your vehicle locked
- Use a steering wheel lock to deter thieves
- Never leave spare keys or garage door openers in or around your vehicle. Always lock the person door leading from a garage into a residence
- Never leave children or pets in a running vehicle
- Do not leave valuables, including identity documents and bank cards, in a vehicle
- If you witness a crime, such as a vehicle being stolen, call 911 and provide as much descriptive information as you can. Never approach a suspect or pursue a stolen vehicle
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