Const. Matt Rutherford.

Three quick ways to have a safe and happy summer

Be aware of bike, car thefts and leaving animals in hot cars

With summer upon us, many people are heading out to enjoy everything that Victoria and Esquimalt have to offer. Whether strolling along the Westsong Walkway, spending time at Macaulay Point or shopping in downtown Victoria, it’s great to see people out and enjoying those things that make our communities special. Unfortunately, with this enjoyment comes three types of calls that increase each time the weather warms up: theft of bikes, theft from vehicles and reports of pets locked in hot cars.

Bike theft is often on the rise in the summertime as more people are out with their bikes, which in turn provides bike thieves with more opportunities to steal. We’ve recently seen an increase in these reports. In the last two weeks, we’ve seen reports of stolen bikes go up to more than triple what we saw in this same time period last year. While this could partially be the result of more people reporting when their bikes are stolen, our VicPD Strategic Operations Council believes that prolific bike thieves may again be at work.

While we work to target bike thieves, the best ways that you can avoid being victimized are:

· Always lock your bike. Even if you are going inside for just a moment.

· Lock your bike with a sturdy bike lock.

· Lock your bike even if stored inside. Many bike thefts are from storage lockers inside buildings.

· Register your bike with our VicPD Bike Registry and make sure you place your “Registered with VicPD” sticker in a prominent spot on your bike.

In the event that your bike is stolen, it is always best to report the theft to us right away. Bikes that are registered with us and reported stolen quickly after the theft are the ones that are most often returned to their rightful owners.

For those of us who are travelling by four wheels instead of two, theft from vehicles is also something to be aware of during the warm summer months. We’re targeting those who steal from vehicles, but the best defence against having your vehicle broken into is to not leave anything in your vehicle. The dollar’s worth of nickels and dimes in your cup holder can draw in a thief and can result in smashed windows and expensive insurance claims. Even secured parking areas with foot patrols are not immune to thefts from vehicles, so instead of relying on good timing by security patrols, you can do your part by simply not leaving anything in your vehicle. This will not only protect your belongings from thieves but will help protect the entire area. Those who steal from vehicles are far less likely to return to a location that has not yielded items that they can make off with quickly.

Valuables not to leave in your vehicle include pets. Each year we get several reports of dogs being left in hot cars and for a few of these calls, our officers end up having to break windows in order to rescue the pets in distress. Recently, Victoria City Council member Charlayne Thornton-Joe and CHEK News’ Tess Van Straaten locked themselves in a hot car for a short period of time in order to demonstrate the risks. Within less than 30 minutes temperatures in the vehicle reached 50 degrees Celsius – potentially fatal to any pet left in the vehicle. Please do not leave your pet in your hot vehicle during warm summer days for any length of time. Our own VicPD K9 vehicles are equipped with air conditioning units, mesh-screened openable windows and heat alarms. Unless your vehicle is similarly outfitted, by leaving your pet in your car you could very easily be risking its life.

Const. Matt Rutherford is the media spokesperson for the Victoria Police Department.