‘Lock it or lose it’ – police

High Prairie RCMP S/Sgt. Bryce Tarzwell (in photo) and other RCMP unit commanders advise people to lock their vehicles at all times to protect their valuables and properties.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

“Lock it or lose,” High Prairie RCMP S/Sgt. Bryce Tarzwell says.
It’s a message shared by other rural police detachments as thefts are on the rise, he says.
“There has been a surge in vehicle and home break-and-enters as well as thefts,” Tarzwell says.
He adds thefts from vehicles are unusually higher and reported in both town boundaries and surrounding rural areas.
Police want to ensure the public is aware of the increase and also wants to offer some tips to keeping their property secure.
“Thefts of items inside vehicles continue to be a problem across the province and police urge people to keep their valuables and vehicles safe by always keeping them locked with valuables out of sight,” Tarzwell says.
“The RCMP suggest anytime you are leaving your vehicle, ensure it is locked with all valuables either removed or placed out of sight.”
Police have three simple steps to keep their vehicle and belongings safe and secure.
“Close the windows, always remove the keys and, of course, lock the doors,” Tarzwell says.
To protect residential property, he offers a few basic steps.
“The simplest is to ensure all property is locked up,” Tarzwell says.
“Also ensure your property is well lit, install security systems and keep your eyes open for any and all suspicious activity.
“The more eyes in the communities, the better.”
He says citizens and neighbours can help reduce theft of and from vehicles by reporting any suspicious activity to local police.
“According to the RCMP, most vehicle thefts are crimes of opportunity and vehicle owners can follow some straightforward advice to reduce these crimes,” Tarzwell says.
“If criminals can see something, they will steal it.”
He says thefts of vehicles give thieves a useful tool in their activity.
“Vehicle thefts are more common for criminals who need a vehicle to carry out their crimes,” Tarzwell says.
“With residential break-and-enters, thieves are looking for easily sellable items.”
RCMP say thefts from vehicles are more likely to happen in areas that contain many vehicles and have minimal pedestrian traffic.
“Investigators say the theft of vehicles increases in areas with less visibility, such as rural properties,” Tarzwell says.
“But regardless of the location, if you leave a vehicle running and unattended, unlocked or with valuables in plain sight, the risk is increased.”
People who park outside are advised to always park in a well-lit area and to use a steering wheel lock.
Drivers with garage door openers inside their vehicles are also advised to remove them before leaving the vehicle and to lock their garage.
“If the vehicle will be parked for an extended period of time in a garage, police also suggests you disable power to the garage door,” Tarzwell says.
“People should also not leave their keys in their vehicle when inside the garage.
“If the garage is broken into, the keys will give the offenders future access to your vehicle and possibly your house.”
Although he can’t confirm any reason for the increase in crime around vehicles, the unit commander suspects it is seasonal.
“Possibly it’s with the cooler weather coming and people are looking to get money,” Tarzwell says.
The Alberta RCMP also has some helpful videos on its YouTube page so citizens can visit RCMP-GRC Alberta, on YouTube, for some hints and tips on how to make their vehicle and property less appealing to criminals.
Anyone who observes suspicious or criminal activity is requested to contact the local police.
They may contact High Prairie RCMP at (780) 523-3378, McLennan RCMP at (780) 324-3086, Peace River Regional RCMP at (780) 624-6677 or Lakeshore Regional Police Service at (1-855) 299-0137.
People may also report a tip anonymously to Crime Stoppers at (1-800) 222-8477, online at p3tips.com or on the Crime Stoppers app.

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