Thefts from vehicles are on the rise in Greater Victoria and police are encouraging residents to take precautions.
Having your car broken into is unsettling, but it’s a “common experience,” said Bowen Osoko, a spokesperson for VicPD.
He receives daily reports of thefts from cars in Victoria and emphasized that he’s “never seen a day without at least five break-ins.”
Osoko pointed out that while thieves typically target vehicles when it’s dark out, there’s no specific day of the week where more car break-ins occur.
“They’re all thefts of opportunity,” he said.
We've seen an increase in thefts from vehicles, many of which were unlocked. An empty, clean vehicle with locked doors will likely be overlooked by thieves. #9pmroutine #lockoutautocrime pic.twitter.com/5q7YE4l7sj— Saanich Police (@SaanichPolice) January 25, 2020
While the goal is not to blame the victims, Osoko noted that there are things people do that draw thieves to their vehicle.
If a car is unlocked or valuables are left inside, someone can commit the crime in under a minute, he explained, referencing an advisory video VicPD filmed in July where an officer broke a car window and grabbed the valuables from inside in under 20 seconds.
Thieves are also likely to hit multiple cars, he noted. They pick an area and sometimes work in groups.
Car owners should be locking up and removing valuables to protect themselves and their neighbours as thieves who are successful will likely target other nearby vehicles, Osoko noted. He emphasized the importance of the “9 p.m. ritual”: leave nothing in the car after dark and lock up.
First, they’ll try door handles because it’s easier and less of a risk, Osoko said. Next, they’ll start looking for valuables.
He pointed out that valuables aren’t necessarily things like a laptop or cash, the thief could be looking for a backpack, flashlight or screwdriver – anything that could be useful for the next break in or could be traded for money or drugs.
Prolific thieves have told police that a locked car with no valuables is “not worth the effort” because they’re looking for a “quick win,” Osoko said.
He encourages residents to “think a little bit like a thief.” Don’t assume something isn’t valuable enough to warrant a break-in or that your car is safe in a private underground parking lot.
Osoko emphasized the importance of reporting thefts as well as people trying door handles because it helps police track trends, figure out which neighbourhoods are being targeted and catch prolific offenders.
While these thieves are often caught, they’re likely to re-offend, Osoko noted. Educating the public and providing tips to make their car undesirable is one way police are trying to break the cycle.