(Black Press Media files)

Thieves breaking into Port Alberni vehicles at three times the rate of last year

Overall property crime in the community is up by nearly a third

The Port Alberni RCMP is reminding people to keep their valuables locked up as property crime continues to climb.

According to Port Alberni RCMP’s Acting Officer in Charge Sgt. Peter Dionne, the city has seen a 30-percent increase in property crime in the first quarter of the year.

Possession of stolen property statistics are up “significantly” for the quarter (January to March 2020), said Dionne, mostly because of two prolific offenders who have now been caught and detained.

Thefts from vehicles, meanwhile, are almost triple what they were last year.

“People are not securing their vehicles,” said Dionne. “We’re continuing to get thefts from vehicles, but I could probably count on one hand the number of times we get a report of a vehicle being broken into for a theft. What is continuing to happen is people are leaving valuables in their vehicles, they’re leaving them unlocked and once their possessions have left, we’re getting a call about it.”

The Port Alberni RCMP has now started a “lock it or lose it” campaign, posting tips and suggestions on its new Facebook page. The RCMP also put out a press release last month reminding people to keep their valuables locked up and secure in order to prevent crimes of opportunity.

“We’re hearing about frauds resulting from criminals getting their hands on blank cheques and using them to get money out of people’s accounts,” said Port Alberni RCMP Cpl. Amelia Hayden. “This shouldn’t be happening. Those cheque books should always be kept in a safe place, not in vehicles or purses. Take only what you need and leave the rest at home.”

The press release suggests developing and following a routine, such as a 9 p.m. check each evening to make sure all valuables and belongings are secured in the house or removed from a vehicle.

Upon discovery of a missing, lost or stolen credit or bank card, owners need to immediately contact the credit card company or financial institution to advise them to put a hold on the card.

Meanwhile, Dionne said that the Port Alberni RCMP has hired a new officer in charge to replace Insp. Brian Hunter. Hunter left to take on the role of detachment commander of Penticton South Okanagan Similkameen regional detachment.

The incoming officer is in the process of moving to Port Alberni, with the hope of starting duties in June. Dionne did not release the officer’s name.


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