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Thefts from vehicles on rise in Nanaimo

Cellphones, GPS units and other electronics continue to attract thieves’ attention like shiny things draw crows.

Nanaimo RCMP statistics are showing thefts from vehicles have been on the rise over the past eight weeks, even though figures for the past four months – 375 incidents from Oct. 1 to Feb. 4 – show a slight drop compared to 385 thefts for the same period in 2011-12.

But it’s a big jump compared to 2010-11 period with 307 incidents of thefts from vehicles.

Hot items with thieves continue to be cellphones, GPS units and other personal electronics.

RCMP statistics also point out Nanaimo’s hot spots for thefts from cars, which show downtown and the Old City Quarter, most of Harewood south of Fifth Street, and the Country Club area on both sides of the Island Highway between Uplands Drive and Labieux Road, as the most likely areas in town to have your car broken into.

Locating high-crime areas allows police to target them with extra surveillance and alert Block Watch and Citizens on Patrol groups to keep an eye out and report suspicious activity. Spikes in break-ins can be due to seasonal changes or when criminals move into an area. Investigators also know that 50 per cent of vehicle break-ins occur when vehicles are left unlocked.

“It’s one of the big thorns in our side because there’s something we can do to reduce the impact on our community and that is locking our cars,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman.

“We have advocated at every opportunity that you have to lock your cars and remove valuables and that in itself will see a significant reduction in this kind of crime.”

Lower Mainland Division RCMP said in a recent press release that B.C.’s bait cars are now baited with property containing the latest audio and video technology to tackle theft from vehicles.

The Bait Car program is run by the Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team.

Bait property looks no different than any other property thieves might find in vehicles, and can range from anything from tool boxes to a gym bag.

The difference is it can be tracked and monitored by police.

IMPACT’s shift in focus comes after police analyzed statistics from 2012 from across B.C. and identified a slight increase in thefts from vehicles over previous years.

Auto theft in B.C. is down 73 per cent since bait cars started operating in 2003.

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