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Dec 1, 2018

6 min. read

The holiday shopping season is well underway. Unfortunately, that also means that thieves are out there, waiting for you to leave your car parked with your purchases inside and unattended while you shop. Before you know it, they’ve made off with the gifts you just bought or anything else they find in your car.

The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) along with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and the Toronto Police Service (TPS) kicked off their annual, Lock It or Lose It campaign. The aim is to remind everyone how easy it is to prevent vehicle theft and vehicle break-ins during the holiday season (and always) by taking a few simple steps.

What would-be burglars are looking for.

The OACP also shared a handy list of the top 10 things that thieves look for when breaking into or stealing a car.

  • Vehicle left running

  • Unlocked doors or trunk

  • Bags of any sort (especially shopping bags around Christmas)

  • Visible electronics

  • Phone chargers showing

  • Loose change in view

  • Sunglasses

  • Tools

  • Watch or other jewellery

  • East access to the trunk from the vehicle cab

Source: Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police

Don’t get grinched! How to prevent vehicle break-ins.

Don’t fall victim. The OPP and IBC pointed out at a press conference on November 27, 2018, that taking just a few precautions will thwart most would-be thieves.

We know, you’re stressed and busy, making lists, checking them twice, trying to get your shopping done on time, maybe with a few overheated and fussy kids in tow. As such, it can be hard to remember to take precautions. But, follow these few simple rules to avoid having your holiday ruined by a vehicle break-in. You’ll be glad you did.

A family with a child opening the trunk of a car.

Park in a well-lit area.

Thieves are less likely to break into your car when they are at risk of being seen. Stay near store entrances in mall parking lots and avoid the more remote sections. It’s even better if you can leave your car where there’s a crowd. At night, leave your car in a parking garage, if possible.

Lock your doors.

This is the easiest thing you can do that will prevent someone from breaking into your vehicle. These criminals are opportunists, and if you make it even the slightest bit difficult for them, they’ll probably move on – particularly if you followed the first piece of advice and parked where the car is visible and well lit. Also, close your windows.

Be vigilant.

Sergeant Kerry Schmidt of the OPP told CAASCO, “Even if you think you’re parking in a safe location, you never know who is watching.” Scan the area for suspicious-looking activity.

Don’t leave personal information in your glove box.

The days of keeping your license and registration in your glove box are over. Always carry this identification with you.  Sergeant Schmidt also noted, “If you leave anything with your personal information in your glove box, it can be used to impersonate you. And if anything shows your home address or business address, these are all things that criminals can use against you.”

Place items out of view.

Don’t leave your shopping bags, computers, and devices in plain view where they might as well have a sign on them that says “Free stuff! Steal it!” Put everything out of sight, in the trunk if possible. If a thief sees nothing to steal they won’t have any reason to break into your car. Most thieves aren’t going to pry open a random trunk just to check if there’s anything in there to steal.

Report a crime if you see one.

It takes a village. If you see someone breaking into a car, call 911 or Crime Stoppers.

Now, get out there and enjoy the holiday season – just don’t let thieves ruin it for you and the ones you love.

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