Car theft is becoming an increasing problem in Wellington County according to the OPP
There have been 103 cars stolen in the county so far this year, said Cst. Josh Cunningham. At the current pace it would mean a 30 per cent increase over 2018 by year's end.
Cunningham says the problems of vehicle theft and vehicle entries stem from people not locking their vehicles
The OPP began canvassing throughout the county on July 18 to warn people of the dangers of leaving their car unlocked. With Centre Wellington having the most frequent car thefts, the OPP canvassed primarily around that area.
Cunningham says just Thursday alone they had reports of four stolen vehicles.
“We're going into areas where we're seeing rashes and outbursts of vehicles entries and reminding people to lock it or they risk losing it,” says Cunningham as a part of the OPP's LOCK IT OR LOSE IT campaign.
“And not only locking vehicles but also taking valuables out of the vehicles. Criminals won't steal anything if there's nothing to steal.”
Cunningham says one of the apparent issues is that the thieves are not localized, so when a vehicle is stolen, it allows the criminal to have mobility.
“It's most likely used to commit another or more serious offence such as a home invasion, such as a robbery, such as other exploits,” says Cunningham.
“So we are seeing the vehicles are not so often being used for the property themselves, they're allowing criminals mobility to do serious crimes by the expansion of the vastness of where they're able to commit their crimes.”
Cunningham says once a car is stolen, it should be reported right away.
“If we could, we would go around to everybody in the community face to face, shake their hand and say this is what we want you to do, please help us. But unfortunately, we can't do that," says Cunningham.
Cunningham says having a car stolen because it was unlocked also makes it easier for people to be held responsible for neglect in civil courts.
With vehicle security better than ever, Cunningham says locks placed in cars by the manufacturer are there for a reason and need to be used.
He says people in rural areas are more trusting and tend to leave the doors unlocked, and when it comes to vehicle thefts, the OPP sees an increase in thefts of pickup trucks in rural addresses.
“There's an illusion that people might say 'oh it's a beat-up old farm truck, there's nothing in it, why would someone steal it?' well they don't steal it because it's valuable, they steal it because it can be used in an armed robbery or it can be used to steal an ATM out of a business or smash through a glass window,” says Cunningham.
He says over 75 per cent of vehicles from Wellington Couty are recovered, however, they are often damaged or with biohazardous materials within them and sometimes even burnt out.
"Whether it gets recovered or not, it won't change the emotional impact it will have on the victim," says Cunningham.
"That victim of the car theft, whether it was returned washed and with a full tank in it, even if it came back in better shape, it will not stop the effect it will have on the victim."