Niagara Regional Police in 8 District (Grimsby, Lincoln, West Lincoln) say they are seeing an increase in the number of auto thefts in West Niagara.
Since late January officers have responded to 14 incidents of stolen vehicles, police said in a news release.
Some of the thefts appear to be crimes of opportunity. Four vehicles were left unlocked, with the keys in the vehicle, along with valuables (wallets / purses), according to police.
Other vehicles may have been targeted by an organized criminal element. Organized crime auto thefts tend to target specific SUVs, trucks, sport and luxury vehicles.
On Jan. 29, three Ford F150 pick up trucks were stolen, police said.
The incidents have been assigned to the 8 District detectives office. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the investigating officers at 905-688-4111, option 3, extension 1025400.
Members of the public who wish to provide information anonymously can contact Crime Stoppers of Niagara online or call 1-800-222-8477. Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards to persons who contact the program with information which leads to an arrest.
Meanwhile, police offered these auto theft prevention tips:
- Lock Your Vehicle: Always lock your car, even if you're only stepping away for a short time. Ensure all windows and sunroofs are closed as well.
- Use Anti-Theft Devices: Invest in anti-theft devices such as steering wheel locks, car alarms, and immobilizers. These can deter thieves and make it more difficult for them to steal your vehicle.
- Park in Well-Lit Areas: When parking, choose well-lit and populated areas. Avoid leaving your vehicle in isolated or poorly lit locations, as these can provide cover for thieves.
- Don't Leave Valuables Visible: Keep valuables out of sight or, better yet, take them with you. Leaving items like electronics, bags, or wallets visible can attract thieves.
- Hide Spare Keys Securely: Avoid leaving spare keys inside or near your vehicle. Thieves know common hiding spots and can easily access your car if they find them.
- Install Tracking Devices: Consider installing a GPS tracking device in your vehicle. This can help locate your car if it's stolen and aid law enforcement in recovering it.
- Be Mindful of Key Security: Keep your car keys secure and never leave them unattended or in plain sight. Thieves can use key cloning or signal amplification to steal vehicles with keyless entry systems.
- Be Cautious with Remote Starters: If your vehicle has a remote starter feature, be cautious about leaving the engine running unattended. Thieves can easily steal cars left idling, especially in cold weather.
- Secure Your Garage: If you have a garage, use it to park your vehicle. Keep the garage door closed and locked and consider installing additional security measures such as motion-sensing lights or a security camera.
- Be Aware of Scams: Be wary of scams, such as individuals posing as parking attendants or offering to perform maintenance on your vehicle. Always verify the legitimacy of service providers before entrusting them with your car.
What to do if your vehicle is stolen?
If your vehicle is stolen, as soon as possible contact police and report it. Consider what if any valuables were in it. If evidence is available to support the investigation report it (e.g., items left behind by the thief or video evidence). If you have a tracking device report that to police.
Police said members of the public are discouraged from going out and following or attempting to recover their own vehicle without police involvement. If a member of the public finds their vehicle, they should immediately report it to the police. They should not get in and drive as it may result in the loss of evidence and they would be driving a vehicle that is listed as stolen across Canada.