City witnesses drop in auto crime

RCMP are winning the fight against automobile crime in Penticton with 42 per cent less vehicle thefts and 32 per cent fewer break-ins last year.

RCMP are winning the fight against automobile crime in Penticton with 42 per cent less vehicle thefts and 32 per cent fewer break-ins last year.

The statistics released by ICBC tout the use of police bait cars in the battle against car thefts and customers who have immobilizers in the vehicles as some of the major reasons why the number of incidents reported to ICBC dropping.

“We have had a couple of bait vehicles here and I think that certainly has contributed to the decrease along with the education. The message is getting out for people to be a little more conscious of securing their vehicles,” said Sgt. Rick Dellebuur.

“We got one of our prolific car thieves off the street about a year-and-a-half ago when he stole a bait car. It will be interesting because a couple of those people are due to be released shortly and we will see if we get a flurry of car thefts again. More often than not they go back to their ways.”

Penticton RCMP Community Safety Team officers work with the bait cars and the Penticton detachment crime analyst to pinpoint areas that RCMP are having problems with car thefts.

The RCMP use statistical information to target those areas to act as a deterrent and catch some of the thieves. In December RCMP caught a Penticton man who activated a bait car. He received 30 days in jail for theft of a motor vehicle.

Dellebuur said a large amount of vehicles stolen in the Penticton area are often taken for joyrides and then destroyed. The use of immobilizers in vehicles, according to ICBC stats, reduces the chance of theft by at least 80 per cent.

“Technology certainly assists us in the fight against auto theft. We all see the results of that on our insurance premiums. The more vehicles that get lost or stolen and the more insurance payouts, we all pay for that,” said Dellebuur.

ICBC also reports that theft-from-vehicle incidents reported to them from Penticton have dropped. From 2009 to 2010 they saw a 32 per cent decrease of theft from vehicle incidents reported and a 60 per cent drop from 2003 to 2010.

Despite the decrease over seven years, trailer theft has remained constant, with about 500 trailers stolen every year in B.C.

The new bait trailer program unveiled last week by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General can range from recreational and camping-type trailers, to mobile cargo and utility units. Dellebuur said if the RCMP statistics indicate there is a problem in the Penticton area the expects the bait trailer program would be activated.

“This is the latest weapon in the highly successful Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team arsenal, which puts thieves behind bars on a regular basis,” said Solicitor General Shirley Bond. “In fact, the province has seen an unprecedented seven-consecutive-year drop in car thefts since 2003. This is a 65 per cent decrease from 26,000 incidents in 2003 to 9,000 in 2010.”