‘Theft with keys’ the latest trend for Winnipeg auto thieves: MPI investigator

'Theft with keys' is on the rise in Manitoba.
'Theft with keys' is on the rise in Manitoba. AP Photo/Molly Riley, File

Winnipeg’s auto theft problem isn’t anywhere near early-2000s levels these days, but the city is playing host to a conference of 75 auto theft investigators from across the country in an attempt to curb the issue.

Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) said around 3,400 vehicles are stolen in the province each year – 85 per cent of which were stolen in Winnipeg.

MPI investigator Todd Cowley told 680 CJOB that the latest trend in the city involves thieves making off with vehicles without having to smash a window or hot-wire anything.

“The big issue we’re having mostly in Winnipeg is theft with keys,” said Cowley.

“People are leaving keys in the car, or they’re stolen from jackets and stuff, and that seems to be the major force in the theft rate today.”

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READ MORE: MPI urges motorists to use common sense to avoid preventable car theft

Cowley said other provinces are experiencing different trends, such as ID theft in British Columbia – with enterprising thieves stealing identification and using it to acquire cars from unwitting dealerships.

“Your ID gets stolen, someone gets your driver’s licence, makes some documents, goes into a dealership, is able to purchase a vehicle through the checks, and then soon thereafter, the vehicle disappears,” he said.

The two-day conference is intended to give investigators – both police and insurance – an opportunity to network, share auto theft prevention tactics, and work together to slow down theft across the country.

WATCH: MPI warns drivers about leaving keys in cars after rise in auto thefts

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