A southeast Calgary community is fighting back when it comes to vehicle thefts, with residents now using an online block watch page to help track down offenders.
On the morning of Nov. 19, Tania and Preston Adams woke up to find both their truck and black garbage bin stolen from their driveway in the Chaparral neighbourhood.
Tania quickly posted the theft on the Chaparral Block Watch Facebook page.
There were over 300 shares of the stolen F-350 truck photo with hours. The next morning, one woman reported that she spotted the truck a few blocks away.
“We got a call from the police saying it’s been found in an alley nearby our own neighbourhood, which was very shocking,” Tania said.
The truck was damaged from the culprits breaking in and starting the vehicle. But the Adamses said the most disturbing twist to the theft was another call from the police.
Officers found registration and insurance documents from the Adamses’ stolen truck in a different stolen car, all neatly organized in a plastic bag.
“It was a sign that they were obviously going through it, meticulously looking at different documents. They stole our garbage so I don’t know what type of stuff they were after but they had the documents all divided up and organized in a neat fashion,” Preston said.
“I feel creeped out.”
Preston said he feels violated wondering what the thieves were up to.
“Am I looking at something in the future that’s going to cause me grief because they took some of my information?” he said.
Just a few blocks away in Chaparral, Trevor Carter had two vehicles stolen from his house in July. In that case, the culprits broke into the house while he was on vacation, stole the keys hanging in the garage and got away with a car that was in the garage and a truck parked on the street.
“In the city, you would always feel quite safe but now in this economy, things are getting a little rougher,” Carter said.
In both Chaparral cases, neighbours and other residents helped out online by posting photos of the crime and information on vehicle sightings.
“I actually felt really grateful,” said Tania. “It touched my heart even though someone would do something wrong, there’s a lot of good people out there watching out for each other.
“We are fairly new to this community so we feel like strangers sometimes, but having this experience made us feel that maybe people have busy lives, but at the end of the day, we all want to help one another and support one another.”
While keys left in cars account for a big chunk of Calgary’s vehicle thefts, others are taken using keys stolen from homes.
Police said the stolen vehicles are then often used to commit break and enters. Last year in Calgary there were 6,918 vehicle thefts or attempted thefts.