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Smashed car window can lead to identity theft, Coquitlam RCMP say
It's that sinking feeling when you get to your car and find a window smashed, when your mind races trying to remember what was left inside to attract a thief's eye.
With the number of vehicle thefts down but thefts from vehicles on the rise, Coquitlam RCMP are offering tips on how to avoid being the victim of such crimes:
• Lock your vehicle and put valuables in the trunk — or, better yet, bring them inside at night.
• Consider taking your garage door opener and/or vehicle registration with you, since those two items together can lead a thief to break into your home.
• Thieves know that backpacks, handbags and briefcases may contain wallets, identification, laptop computers, tablets and other electronic devices.
• After removing valuables from view, lock your vehicle doors to discourage casual thieves looking for easy targets and deter those who go into an unlocked car to look for a trunk or hood release button to steal auto parts or trunk contents.
• When parking at home, always use the garage if you have one, and lock both your vehicle and your garage. Park in an open, well-lit place at work or at the mall.
• Call 911 if you see or hear something suspicious, and try to get a description of the suspects and their vehicle — but do not confront a thief.
"Most vehicle crimes are crimes of opportunity and, therefore, prevention is the key," said Cpl. Jamie Chung, adding Coquitlam RCMP's bike patrol volunteers hand out crime prevention notices when they see valuables inside vehicles.
Police also caution that auto theft crimes are often linked to identity theft. For instance, an identity theft ring bust in 2006 found one out of every three stolen identity documents being used to create fraudulent ID could be traced back to auto theft files.