Motorists warned to keep cars locked as thefts take jump

Victoria police have seen a big increase in thefts of items from cars despite efforts to crack down on the crime.

In May and June of 2019, police received 356 reports of thefts from cars, up sharply from 246 during the same months in 2018.

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The increase could be because more people are keeping valuables inside cars and leaving doors unlocked, said Bowen Osoko, communications co-ordinator for VicPD.

Dozens of thefts from vehicles are reported in Victoria and Esquimalt each week.

Between July 5 and 8, VicPD received 23 reports of theft from vehicles.

Crime analysts are examining data to pinpoint where the thefts are occurring to identify priority areas for patrols. Recent hotspots were in downtown Victoria and Burnside Gorge, while in May, James Bay was targeted.

Thieves also target underground parkades.

Police say theft from vehicles is a crime of opportunity that typically happens during the night. They’re encouraging the public to remove valuables from cars and to lock their car doors.

“It’s very rare that they’re going to take the risk of smashing the window and being heard and getting hurt unless they see an item that they consider to be of high value,” Osoko said.

Police made two arrests in June of suspects allegedly caught in the act of breaking into vehicles. Shortly before midnight on June 16, officers responded to a theft in progress in an area near Hillside Avenue. When police arrived, they found a man still partially inside the vehicle. They were able to recover several stolen items when they searched him. The man was released on a promise to appear in court at a later date.

In the early hours of June 22, officers responded to reports of a man trying to open car doors near Niagara Street and Menzies Street. Police arrived to find an intoxicated man inside a vehicle. He was taken into custody.

Police are reminding the public to call 911 if they see someone looking into cars or checking if car doors are unlocked.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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