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RCMP begin Operation Cold Start to educate

Alberta RCMP is reminding everyone to ensure their vehicle is never unattended or unlocked with keys nearby or in the ignition.

They say approximately 25% of stolen vehicles in Alberta are stolen while idling and these thefts are far more common in the cold winter months. Vehicles can be stolen in seconds by thieves lying in wait. Oftentimes, thieves will look for people who start their vehicles and then leave them unattended as they return to their houses or into a store.

To help prevent these thefts, Alberta police services are taking action through Operation Cold Start from January 31 to February 6. This is the first time RCMP and Individual police agencies will coordinate together in 2022.

The goal of Operation Cold Start is to educate Albertans and work with the public to reduce auto theft, ultimately by making it tougher on would-be thieves. Police officers will be patrolling for unattended idling vehicles to determine if they are locked and/or have the keys in the ignition. Officers will work to educate owners on the various ways they may keep their property safe.

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RCMP Superintendent Mike McCauley of the Community Safety and Wellbeing Branch says Alberta has the highest per capita auto theft rate in the country.

“Vehicles are stolen while idling with the keys left in the vehicle. This drives up insurance rates for Albertans and these files take a great deal of time to investigate. This project will prevent some of these crimes during the project, and ideally, thanks to the educational component of the project, will change Albertan’s habits. It is a small investment tackling one of the root causes of this crime.”

Alberta RCMP would like to offer Albertans some tips to help keep their vehicles safe:

–          If possible, look into command start options as a means to warm your vehicle.

–          Steering wheel locking devices are effective options that can help mitigate theft.

–          When starting your car, or allowing the engine to warm up prior to driving, ensure that you are in the vehicle.

–          Never leave valuable items like purses, wallets, keys or change in an unoccupied vehicle.

–          Always place keys to vehicles in a safe place, out of plain sight and in a secure location.

–          Lock vehicle doors all the time, even if you are parked in your driveway or garage at home.

–          Never leave your vehicle unattended if it is running or the keys are in it.

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