Calgary police have charged a pair in relation to the theft of more than $1 million worth of vehicles.
Police believe five thefts occurred over a two-and-a-half week period starting on Oct. 17. These thefts include a Ford Mustang and nine other vehicles from a Hertz location in Vista Heights, a Lexus RX350 and Mercedes-Benz GLC from a Carstar autobody repair shop in Royal Vista, a Ford Explorer left running outside a home in Redstone and a Chevrolet Silverado left running unattended in a parking lot located in the 2100 block of 100 Avenue N.E.
Investigators compared evidence from the scenes and were able to identify two possible offenders. Police arrested a man and a woman.
Brandon Stevens, 29, faces 49 criminal charges, including break and enter, theft of a motor vehicle, possession of a controlled substance and failure to comply with a court order.
Jessica Hennessy, 29, was charged with 15 charges, including break and enter, possession of a controlled substance and failure to comply with a court order.
Police have been able to recover 11 of the 14 stolen vehicles, worth a total of $1.2 million.
“By dedicating resources to monitor our most prolific offenders, we can more quickly identify crimes they may have a connection to and take action to prevent further victimization,” acting Sgt. Dan de Villenfagne said in a statement.
“In this case, offenders were looking to capitalize on crimes of opportunity, and were able to steal a large number of unsecured vehicles from citizens and businesses in Calgary.”
The Calgary Police Service launched Operation Cold Start on the same day details of the above incidents were released. The annual information campaign is in response to a marked increase in car thefts during the winter months in Calgary.
Police have the following tips to prevent theft of cars left unattended while running:
- Never leave spare keys or garage door openers in or around your vehicle.
- Never leave a running vehicle unattended if the keys are inside the vehicle or if the vehicle has been started with a keyless ignition or push-button start.
- Use a remote starter whenever possible and keep your vehicle locked.
- If you are warming up your vehicle with the keys in the ignition or with a push-button start, stay with your vehicle.
- Use a steering wheel lock to deter thieves.
- Never leave children or pets in a running vehicle.
- Do not leave valuables, including identity documents and bank cards, in a vehicle.
- Report suspicious activity to police immediately by calling 403-266-1234 or 9-1-1 for crimes in progress.
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