DELTA â€” Delta Police are warning the public to keep vehicles locked after a recent spike in car thefts and break-ins.
"We are really seeing an increase in thefts from vehicles, particularly in South Delta," said Sgt. Sarah Swallow, noting that in many cases the vehicles have been left unlocked.
According to Delta Police statistics, 16 automobiles were stolen in North Delta in April, five in Ladner and six in Tsawwassen. In that same period, North Delta recorded 33 thefts from vehicles while Ladner had 65 and Tsawwassen, 18.
Several weeks ago, 10 cars in one Ladner neighbourhood were broken into and in every case the vehicle had been left unlocked.
There have been 383 reported cases of theft from vehicles so far this year, up 26 per cent from 2013. There have been 87 vehicles stolen so far this year compared to 38 during the same period last year, an increase of 129 per cent.
"I would venture to say that almost all of our vehicles broken into have been left unlocked and it is an exception for the theft to be due to breaking windows or locks," said Swallow. "Thieves will not put themselves at risk when there is an open car nearby.
"I understand that many people forget to lock their car, or simply leave their cars unlocked because if someone does break in it costs less than the deductible, but what may seem like small change, or an item of insignificance, can be a quick payday for a thief."
Some of the most commonly stolen items include loose change, garage door openers, iPods and smart phones, GPS devices, sunglasses, wallets, passports and computers.
Swallow said she wants to remind the public that leaving anything in a car, even if it does not seem valuable, entices thieves into a neighbourhood.
"The unfortunate reality with thieves is that it is a small step to go from rummaging through your unlocked car to going into your back yard and rummaging through your unlocked shed, to breaking into your house. The items left in your unlocked car could be the carrot that entices the thief into your neighbourhood that then breaks into your neighbour’s house or steals their property."
Swallow also urges residents to report any suspicious activity to police.
"In the last month, we have arrested several theft and B&E suspects stemming from calls from the public," she said.
In South Delta, two men were arrested immediately after committing a break and enter because of a call from a member of the public who thought the men were suspicious. A woman was arrested for stealing cars and another man was arrested for breaking and entering.
All those arrests occurred after residents called police to report a suspicious-looking person.
"Unfortunately, the police can’t be everywhere at once and so we rely on these calls from the public to alert us," Swallow said.
Call 911 to report an in-progress crime or an emergency, or the non-emergency line at 604-946-4411 for other assistance.
– with a file from Tom Zytaruk
Tips for preventing thefts
â€¢ Lock it up: bike, shed, car or house. Make it hard to access so thieves will move on or not risk it. Use steering wheel clubs, anti-theft devices, bike locks and dead bolts.
â€¢ Remove it and take it with you: Don’t leave anything in your car or yard advertising what you have. Putting purses, wallets, etc. under car seats is not a good idea as it only takes seconds for thieves to break in and move on.
â€¢ Around your home, ensure you have good lighting and sight lines: Install bright lights on sensors, make sure doorways and windows aren’t hidden by bushes or foliage.
â€¢ If you have an alarm, use it – every time.
â€¢ Report any suspicious activity to police.