The early onset of winter this year has led to a spate of vehicle thefts where cars and trucks are stolen when their drivers leave them idling to keep warm.
The RCMP across the province are warning about the repercussions of leaving vehicles unsecured when idling.
Police are asking vehicle owners to keep their keys or key fobs on them when allowing vehicles to idle. Auto thieves are known to be roaming neighbourhoods, including rural areas, looking for a quick opportunity.
The RCMP say it takes less than a minute to get into your vehicle and drive away.
Corporal Curtis Peters with Strategic Communications for the RCMP says, "Although trucks are predominantly the vehicle of choice, don't forget to secure your other motor vehicles like quads, tractors and snowmobiles."
Peters says a recent example of a situation where a tractor was stolen and used to ram and disable a police vehicle could have been potentially deadly.
Peters adds, "The mindset of a driver of a stolen vehicle is not always rational. Situations involving stolen vehicles can have a significant impact on public safety and police safety. There's no expectation that a thief will take care of your vehicle."
In the past two weeks, the RCMP have had examples in two different jurisdictions where their safety was put at risk.
On October 28th, Barrhead RCMP responded to a suspicious person complaint which escalated when the suspect stole a tractor with its keys in it and rammed it into a police vehicle.
On Wednesday in Red Deer, a 21-year-old male stole a truck that was idling and then rammed it into a police vehicle when he was found by police.
Fortunately, no one was injured in either of these incidents.
Peters says since the beginning of October 1,420 vehicles have been stolen and many were idling with the keys accessible when they were taken.
The RCMP have these tips:
- Never leave a running vehicle unattended. If your keys must be in the ignition to warm it up, remain with your vehicle
- Install a remote starter if possible, however, always make sure the vehicle is locked
- Use a steering wheel lock to deter thieves
- Never leave children unattended in a running vehicle
- Never leave spare keys or garage door openers in or around your vehicle. If a garage door opener goes missing at any time, the garage door should be immediately re-coded
- If your keys are stolen, immediately change the locks for the keys that have gone missing, including residences and vehicles
- Vehicles equipped with a keyless ignition can still be stolen if left running, even with the key fob removed from the vehicle
- Always lock the man door leading from a garage into a residence