Edmonton police charge 96 people with 457 auto-theft related charges in 2018

Click to play video: 'Police continue to be concerned about number of stolen vehicles in Edmonton' Police continue to be concerned about number of stolen vehicles in Edmonton
WATCH ABOVE: Since its inception last March, the Edmonton Police Service's Tactical Response to Auto-theft Prevention team has been very busy. Kim Smith reports – May 28, 2018

The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is cracking down on vehicle thefts.

So far this year, the EPS’ Tactical Response to Auto-theft Prevention (TRAP) team has laid 457 charges related to auto thefts against 96 people.

About 100 vehicles have been recovered. They have an estimated worth of about $1.7 million.

The TRAP team was created in March 2017 to deal with an increase in vehicle thefts. Between March and December 2017, the team recovered 221 stolen vehicles, made 187 arrests and laid 931 charges.

“They’ll (the TRAP team) follow a stolen vehicle and when an opportunity arises, they’ll make an arrest prior to a criminal flight event occurring,” said Staff Sgt. Sig Kingma with the EPS’ economic crimes section.

READ MORE: Collision with stolen vehicle leads to citizen’s arrest in north Edmonton

Police say stolen vehicles are often used to commit crimes.

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“It offers a layer of anonimity for them. If you were to use your own vehicle to commit a crime, it’s easier for the police to trace that crime back to you,” Kingma said.

For example, in the month of May, a sawed-off shotgun was found in a vehicle. In another example, a stolen vehicle was allegedly clocked going nearly 160 kilometres per hour in the area of 199 Street and Lessard Road.

READ MORE: Stony Plain RCMP use spike belt to catch stolen truck suspects

Kingma said the TRAP team is so busy they could probably use two teams. It currently consists of a sergeant and two constables.

“I just think it’s volume. There’s so much that they can’t get to everything.”

Kingma said about 50 per cent of vehicles the police recovers are found with the keys.

“One thing we really want to urge the public is that [they make sure] their vehicles are locked and their keys are safely stored and they don’t leave their vehicles running with their keys in it somewhere that someone would have access to it.”

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