North Simcoe residents aren’t doing much to dissuade people from stealing cars or removing the valuables from inside them.
According to the OPP, from January to August there were 140 car-related thefts in the Southern Georgian Bay Detachment area. The majority of these thefts are crimes of opportunity – a car left unlocked and then ransacked, or stolen.
“In a large number of these reports, owners failed to secure their vehicle prior to leaving it or they had their vehicle stolen with keys that had been left in them,” said Const. David Hobson of the Southern Georgian Bay OPP.
Between July 2 and Aug. 8, OPP responded to six vehicle thefts in Midland and another four in Tiny Township.
In one case, in which a 2018 Ford F-150 was stolen, the keys to the vehicle were stolen prior to the theft of the vehicle itself.
“Owners need to take a moment and make an effort to secure their property prior to parking and leaving it,” Hobson said. “(Owners should) ensure the vehicle is locked, windows are rolled up, keys are pocketed, and valuables are out of sight.”
Vehicle thefts have been pretty steady in North Simcoe over the past two years. Between January and August, police responded to 44 vehicle thefts. During the same stretch in 2017, there were 54 vehicles stolen.
The OPP say there isn’t much they can do if residents continue to leave their vehicles unlocked.
“If we provide the message, hopefully that message will be heard,” said OPP Sgt. Peter Leon. “People need to get in the habit of when they leave their vehicle, they lock the doors.”
The majority of these crimes aren’t considered break and enters, as the thieves aren’t breaking in to the vehicle. They simply walk around checking for unlocked vehicles, enter them, and take what they want from inside.
So far in 2018, there have been 96 thefts from vehicles in North Simcoe. This is a slight increase from the same time last year when there were 93 thefts.
“The impact can be devastating for some people. People don’t realize it, but they leave a lot of information in their vehicles. Your ownership and licence has your name, address and driver’s licence number. It could lead to the start of identity theft,” Leon said.
The OPP are reinforcing their “Lock it or Lose it” campaign message in an attempt to reduce vehicle thefts in the region.
“It is all about preventing the next crime,” Leon said. “If someone comes into your neighbourhood and is successful, what is to stop them from coming back for more?”
While some may feel leaving their vehicle unlocked will prevent someone from damaging it when they break in, Leon says locking it is the best way to prevent theft.
“If it is locked it is a deterrent, and if you are not leaving valuables – keys, electronic devices or spare change – in plain view there is no reason for someone to try and get into your vehicle,” said Leon.