Oak Bay police work to curb theft from unlocked vehicles

Police Lock It or Lose It program now underway

Laptops, iPads, cellphones.

There is a treasure trove of goodies ripe for the plucking from unlocked vehicles in Oak Bay.

“These aren’t cheap items. It’s not like some change or a pack of cigarettes in your console,” said Oak Bay Chief Const. Mark Fisher. “Those are significant things to be leaving on your car seat with your doors unlocked.”

In an effort to educate the public and cut down on the number of theft-from-vehicle calls Oak Bay police respond to, officers have begun leaving Lock It or Lose It notes in unlocked vehicles.

The education campaign was recently initiated by two constables who decided Oak Bay needed a program similar to what is already in place in other communities.

The officers went on preventative foot patrols in a South Oak Bay neighbourhood where there had been a spike in thefts from unlocked vehicles. In one hour, they found 17 unlocked automobiles that had valuables in plain site.

Each time, the constables signed a Lock It or Lose It notice and noted the time of day, before leaving the paper in the vehicle, and locking the car up tight.

“They got (the idea) out of frustration,” Fisher said.

In about 90 per cent of theft-from-vehicle cases that police respond to, the vehicle doors were left unlocked. On one night alone, late last month, there were 16 thefts from vehicles.

“No one wants to see people victimized,” the police chief said. “And there’s a very easy way to prevent that.”

The education campaign is meant to serve as a reminder to people, some of whom may forget to lock their car doors, while others may not realize that thefts can happen quite easily.

“I hope it creates some awareness that if people do come out to their vehicle in the morning and see one of the notices inside and the doors locked, that it’s a bit of a wake-up call – that’s how easy a theft could have happened,” Fisher said.

“’Cause if our guys walk by and open a door, then so can a thief.”