Since the beginning of February, police said they have received 28 reports of stolen vehicles, about half of which were taken while the keys were still in the ignition of either a running or parked vehicle.
And over the past four days, police said 64 per cent of their stolen vehicle reports stemmed from keys being left inside the vehicle.
“It’s cold outside and when you’re warming up the vehicle first thing in the morning or perhaps just to leave the vehicle and run into a store, run a quick errand and then come back out to the vehicle, it seems to be an irresistible urge,” said Elizabeth Popowich, RPS spokesperson.
“When you think about it, -30(C) something temperatures with a wind chill in the -40(C) range — that makes it pretty tempting.”
Overall, police said vehicle theft is down between Nov. 1 and Feb. 1 when compared to the same time a year ago.
From Nov. 1, 2019 to Feb. 1, 2020, officers recorded 277 vehicle thefts. From Nov. 1, 2020 to Feb. 1, 2021, there were 233 thefts – 37 per cent of which happened due to keys being left inside the vehicle.
Police said the problem has gotten worse with the weather getting and staying colder.
“What we’re asking is for people to just remove that opportunity for the theft to occur,” Popowich said.
“If you can’t leave the vehicle running with an auto starter — and I realize that’s not in everyone’s budget — just sit in the car for a few minutes and let it warm up. It doesn’t have to sit outside for a long time running unattended with the keys in it.”
Popowich said most stolen vehicles are often recovered in the city and often damaged.