You open your car and see someone has rifled through your change, gum wrappers, coffee cups and insurance papers — what do you do?
In recent weeks it appears that thieves are having a field-day stealing from people’s cars across several neighbourhoods in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam RCMP police statistics show.
Mounties have received as many as 22 theft from vehicle reports, according to the most recent CompStat report dated June 15.
The bi-monthly report posted online shows theft from cars took place in northeast and southwest Coquitlam as well as throughout Port Coquitlam.
Coquitlam RCMP publishes the information as part of its crime reduction strategy.
Police say stealing from cars is generally a crime of opportunity where thieves are searching for valuables that can be easily stolen and potentially re-sold or used.
“Criminals who break in to vehicles are commonly opportunistic offenders,” RCMP said in an emailed statement to the Tri-City News.
“They tend to look for easy targets like vehicles with valuables left in the open or vehicles that have been left unlocked. It also means that if these criminals find a target-rich environment—like a neighbourhood or parking lot with a lot of unlocked vehicles—they will keep coming back.”
Valid insurance papers may also pique the interest of thieves, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).
In an online safety advisory, it states that stealing papers from cars is among the top seven ways that identity fraud is carried out.
- Your car is broken into and identification documents from your glove-box are stolen.
- A stolen vehicle permit is used to ship a stolen car out of the country.
- Stolen insurance information is used to make false insurance claims or even take out a mortgage against your property.
Protect yourself from theft
The Coquitlam RCMP offer the following tips for preventing theft from a vehicle:
- Lock your car doors and roll up all of the windows.
- Take your garage opener, house/business keys and vehicle registration papers out of your vehicle when it’s parked. If thieves stole these items, they could use them to commit other crimes including identity theft and break & enter.
- Wait for the gate. When entering or leaving underground parking garages, wait for the automatic gate to close before proceeding.
- Park in well-lit/well-populated areas where “natural surveillance” can serve as a deterrent.
- Don’t leave your car running, whether to cool it down in summer, warm it up in winter.
- Please report any criminal or suspicious activity to the police:
- Non-emergency line 604-945-1550
The #CQCompStat process is the cornerstone of Coquitlam RCMP's Crime Reduction Strategy.— Coquitlam RCMP (@cqrcmp) June 16, 2023
View the current CompStat map and learn more about CompStat here: https://t.co/CSdCbPWETX pic.twitter.com/3Y2xqDPl1M