Red Deer, Alberta – On July 19 and August 7, Red Deer RCMP and Red Deer Citizens on Patrol (COP) volunteers did visual inspections on parked vehicles at Collicutt Centre and Westerner Park as part of the ongoing Lock it or Lose it public education campaign; volunteers did not try doors or touch vehicles, other than to leave a report card at the vehicle, flagging temptations that might encourage a thief to break into the vehicle or try to steal it. Neither day showed encouraging results, unfortunately.
On July 19, COP volunteers and one RCMP officer checked 143 vehicles parked at Westerner Park and 63 vehicles parked at Collicutt Centre. Constable Derek Turner of the Red Deer RCMP notes that only 90 of the 206 vehicles checked that day received a thumbs up for the care drivers took to protect themselves from crime – seeing only 44% of drivers taking action to target harden their vehicles was a discouraging result for volunteers, considering the Lock It or Lose It campaign has been actively working to educate drivers about simple ways to prevent “smash and grab” thefts from vehicles since February of 2017. Among the vehicles checked on July 19, three had visible keys left in the vehicle, 39 drivers left possessions or cash in plain view, 21 left electronics on visible display, and 46 had a garage door opener in plain view. Five drivers left their vehicle windows open.
On August 7, COP volunteers joined an RCMP officer for another visual inspection of 59 vehicles parked at Collicutt Centre. On this date, only 37% of the vehicles got a thumbs up for taking care to protect their possessions from theft. Two had visible keys left in the vehicle, 14 drivers left cash or possessions in plain view, four left electronics visible and four had a garage door opener in plain view. Four drivers left their windows open.
RCMP flag visible garage door openers as a temptation because thieves will smash vehicle windows in order to steal garage door openers, which they can then use to access the garage – and the residence itself, if a connecting door is left unlocked.
“These results show a continuing disconnect – every day we hear loud and clear that citizens are deeply concerned about crime in the community, and yet more than half of the drivers we encounter continue to behave as if it will never happen to them,” says Constable Turner. “Crime statistics in Red Deer have decreased compared to last year, but this sort of careless behaviour does ensure that crimes of opportunity continue to flourish. RCMP are working hard to reduce crime in Red Deer through increased patrols, special projects like warrant round-ups and drug trafficking sweeps, and our constant focus on putting these repeat offenders before the courts, but the community needs to meet us halfway. Target hardening only takes a few extra seconds.”
During Lock it or Lose it checks, vehicle owners also get reminders about expired or soon-to-expire registration, and volunteers flag issues such as cracked windshields or a note that the vehicle appeared to have been left unlocked.
The Lock it or Lose it campaign is part of ongoing crime reduction work by Red Deer RCMP and local crime prevention agencies to educate Red Deerians about ways they can avoid being victims of crime. Red Deer RCMP and COP conducted five Lock it or Lose it events in 2017 and four so far in 2018, making educational contact with the drivers of 1,855 vehicles regarding their crime prevention choices.
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Cst. Derek Turner
Red Deer RCMP