VicPD volunteers mimicking thieves to prevent property thefts
VICTORIA - Victoria Police are trying new tactics to prevent thefts from cars. VicPD Volunteers are roaming neighborhoods, playing the role of thieves, and trying to spot valuables people have left in plain sight in their vehicles.
If volunteers spot valuables left in vehicles, they leave notes on people's windshields to remind them to take all valuables out of their cars.
"It takes thieves less than 19 seconds to smash the windows, take the stuff that's in your car, and leave," said Victoria police spokesperson, Bowen Osoko. "It happens really, really fast."
The message is not a new one, but the problem is getting worse. Victoria police say that the number of car break-ins in the city has increased dramatically over the last two years.
Despite efforts to remind people to take valuables with them, officers say drivers aren’t listening, which leaves them vulnerable to break-ins.
"The spare change that is stolen might only be a couple of dollars, but it costs hundreds of dollars to replace the window," Bowen said.
Volunteers say that they check over two-hundred cars per shift, and have looked in over 1600 vehicles in the past six months. Liz Bicknell is one of the VicPD volunteers snooping around vehicles, and she says that they most often see people leaving cellphones, laptops, GPS's, purses and backpacks behind.
"If you're that stupid, maybe you deserve to have someone break into your car," Bicknell said.
Over the past two years, Fernwood, Fairfield and Oak Bay have become popular neighborhoods for property thieves. Police say criminals will continue to return to areas where they have been successful before.
"If your vehicle doesn’t have anything in it, and your neighbor's vehicle doesn’t have anything, and their neighbor's vehicle doesn’t have anything, then a thief is likely to move on," said Osoko.
Police are reminding residents that with the holiday season coming up, presents should not be left in cars. VicPD adds that hiding valuables, or leaving doors unlocked to prevent windows being smashed, aren’t effective ways to prevent theft.
Police suggest that all items important to a person should be removed from their vehicle, otherwise, they might not be there upon their return.
Anyone who spots suspicious activity in their neighoubrhood is asked to call 9-1-1 immediately.