Vehicle crimes opportunistic, police say

Matt Gardner
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One of the mainstays of warmer weather in Prince Albert is the attendant rise in what police describe as “crimes of opportunity.”

Sgt. Brandon Mudry speaks at a police press conference on Monday.

Vehicles are one of the must vulnerable targets of such crimes, as a series of weekend incidents illustrate.

Local police responded to nine complaints of theft or damage to motor vehicles over the weekend. During one occurrence alone at a business in the 3200 block of Sixth Avenue East, suspects damaged and rummaged through five vehicles.

“It’s an opportunistic thing -- so if they see something sitting there that’s of value or that they consider valuable regardless of its actual worth,” Sgt. Brandon Mudry said.

“It just depends on the situation,” he added. “They might just check the doors to see if they’re unlocked … If it’s, in their eyes, worth doing damage to the vehicle to get in, they will.”

The majority of the weekend incidents involved a window of the vehicle being smashed in, though one involved gold spray paint on the exterior of the vehicle.

Mudry indicated that breaking windows to gain access to a vehicle is a less frequent method employed by thieves.

“It happens more that the vehicle’s left unlocked, as opposed to doing damage to get in,” Mudry said.

“Doing damage to a vehicle creates noise … If you smash a window out, it alerts somebody, so it’s more that we see the vehicle’s unlocked.”

While describing most vehicle crime as opportunistic, police note that some instances are preventable.

Among the ways vehicle owners can prevent thefts is to remove all valuables from their vehicles and never leave anything on display.

Even seemingly inauspicious items such as loose change, cigarettes, cigarette lighters, sunglasses, CDs, cellphones, stereos, cameras and clothing can be prey for passing thieves if they can see the objects inside the vehicle.

When parking at home, vehicle owners should always use a garage if available, locking both the vehicle and the garage. Those who do not have a garage should try to park in well-lit open spaces -- a tip equally applicable for those parking at work or a local mall.

If it’s, in their eyes, worth doing damage to the vehicle to get in, they will. Sgt. Brandon Mudry

Portable accessories such as stereo face plates, iPods, satellite radios are also vulnerable to thieves, who may be deterred if the accessories are locked away in the trunk or removed from the vehicle altogether.

A car alarm is another way of deterring thieves from stealing items from the vehicle or the vehicle itself.

However, even with an alarm installed, one should never leave any items in their vehicle.

“Certainly if you get a quiet residential neighbourhood where some of these happen, a car alarm starts going off … somebody’s hopefully going to check it out. That’s the hope, right?” Mudry said.

“It takes seconds to commit a theft,” he added. “So if you smash a window out, the car alarm goes off and what you’re going for is within your grasp -- is that going to deter you from taking an iPod or a satellite radio or a purse or a wallet or what have you?

“So no, there’s no guarantee … It’s a deterrence, right? It’s not absolute.”

Caution is required in any case to ensure that one’s car alarm is not too sensitive, as storms, wind and large trucks passing by one’s vehicle can set it off.

Finally, vehicle owners should consider using a steering wheel lock, since a well-secured vehicle will more likely deter criminals.

Among the most common items stolen from vehicles in Prince Albert are laptops, radar detectors, shopping packages, purses, CDs, stereos, MP3 players, briefcases and personal documents.

Anyone with information regarding the latest instances of wilful damage or thefts from motor vehicles should contact Prince Albert police at 306-953-4222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Organizations: Prince Albert, Crime Stoppers

Geographic location: Sixth Avenue East

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