April is Auto Crime Enforcement Month and Vancouver Island police want vehicle owners to get into the habit of checking their vehicles by 9 p.m. nightly to ensure they are safe and secure and all valuables have been removed.
The program, 9 p.m. Routine, was created by the Pasco Sheriff’s Office in Pasco County, Fla., and is being promoted by B.C.’s Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team and others via social media with the hashtag #9PMRoutine.
Almost half of all vehicle break-ins are performed on unlocked vehicles and the overwhelming majority occur after dark. Communities where people employ the 9 p.m. Routine can expect to see a significant drop in thefts from vehicles, according to an RCMP press release.
With increasing use of bait vehicles by police and other anti-theft devices, theft of vehicles in 2017 and 2018 in B.C. dropped by 13.2 per cent, but thefts from vehicles rose 4.2 per cent provincewide, with the largest increase, 14.3 per cent, on Vancouver Island.
Nanaimo’s thefts from vehicles has jumped 18 per cent, from 1,803 to 2,202 reported incidents, and thefts of autos in Nanaimo spiked 26 per cent from 2017 to 2018, from 114 to 153. Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said crime statistics year to year can be heavily influenced by which repeat offenders of certain kinds of crime, such as thefts from autos, are in jail and when they are released.
“From April 2016 to April 2017 we had a 34 per cent reduction [in auto thefts], so we went from 172 to 114,” O’Brien said. “What that means is that a couple prolific offenders were arrested and sent to jail … They have an MO. Certain people break into cars. Certain people steal cars, so then the next year they get out of jail and it goes from 114 and back up to 153.”
A standout figure for O’Brien is theft of pickup trucks, older ones valued at under $5,000, in Nanaimo, which has spiked 46 per cent with 73 stolen over the last 12 months compared to 47 stolen during the previous 12 months. O’Brien said stolen trucks are taken to chop shops in Nanaimo and Duncan where they are stripped for their components.
Police recommend vehicle owners leave nothing in plain sight in their vehicles, remove all valuables and personal items, lock and secure vehicles and make a habit of doing so by 9 p.m. each night.