Thieves Go Shopping To

Dec 8, 2014

Jim Lee, British Columbia Golf

Faster than you can pick out just the right holiday gift, a thief can break into your car. Downtown Vancouver attracts
thousands of visitors seeking gifts and cheerful winter attractions. Unfortunately, the city also attracts criminals who
see ‘treasure-trunks’ of holiday loot in busy parking lots.

“Criminals do their own holiday shopping –from the trunk of your car,” warns Detective Phil Ens, VPD Auto Crime
Enforcement Unit. “Whenever you leave valuables unattended in your vehicle, they’re at risk of being stolen. People
often think that gifts are safe in the trunk, but they’re not.” Detective Ens also cautions visitors that thieves favour
vehicles with out-of-province plates.

“Thieves will take anything and everything out of your car. And you’d be surprised how quickly they can do it,” says
Colin Brown, Chief Operating Officer of Canadian Direct Insurance and sponsor of the Safer Parking Initiative.
“Thieves can be in and out of your car in under a minute. The most commonly stolen items include GPS units,
sunglasses, gym bags, purses, backpacks, tools and toolboxes, garage door remotes, smartphones, laptops, tablets,
and loose coins and change."

The VPD and Canadian Direct Insurance are encouraging shoppers to choose parking facilities with the Safer Parking
Award, which identifies parking facilities whose managers and owners have taken extra steps to ensure a safer
environment for customers. Many Safer Parking Award facilities report zero crime occurrences on a monthly basis,
and the Safer Parking Initiative has helped reduce crime by an average of 47% in awarded Vancouver parkades.
Since the program’s inception, the Safer Parking Initiative has grown from 5 lots to 59 in the City of Vancouver, with
many more lots being coached to become eligible for the designation. The Initiative has gained the support and
participation of major parking lot owners and managers in the city. The VPD has found the Safer Parking Initiative to
be successful enough to expand it city-wide by having officers from each patrol district trained.  Theft-from-auto incidents in Vancouver have significantly declined over the last decade. However, thousands of these
crimes still occur each year.

The VPD and Canadian Direct Insurance are urging holiday shoppers to be vigilant. Follow these guidelines to help
protect your vehicle and property:

1. Choose a parking lot with the Safer Parking Award logo.
2. Don’t store gifts in your trunk. Thieves often follow customers out to their car and break in when they
3. Use an anti-theft device. Not only will your car be safer, but you can get a discount on your auto
4. If practical, remove garage door openers and keep insurance papers hidden in your car rather than in
your glove box. Together they give a thief your home address, and a way to get in.
5. Don’t leave ANY possessions in your vehicle.