Keys left in vehicles adding to spike in Saskatchewan vehicle thefts
“It doesn’t take long to steal a vehicle. It’s seconds, and they’re gone,” Regina Police Service (RPS) Supt. Darcy Koch urged.
But too often, SGI said owners are making it easy for thieves.
Over the past five years, auto theft claims in Saskatchewan have shot up by 46 per cent. Nearly half of those vehicles had the keys inside.
“People just run into the store, or they leave their vehicle running on a cold day,” Auto Fund CEO Penny McCune explained. “We’re encouraging you not to do that. If your vehicle is running, please don’t leave the keys in it, don’t leave it unattended.”
Just under 3,000 vehicles were reported stolen in the province last year – to the tune of $24.5 million in insurance claims.
While it can be devastating to lose a vehicle, chances are, the crime doesn’t stop with a stolen car.
“An individual that’s taking a vehicle is not going to get the milk at the corner store,” Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police President Marlo Pritchard said. “Driving while impaired by drugs, they’re going out and doing other thefts, looking for other vehicles to steal, break-and-enters, or drug dealing. you name it, some of these vehicles will be used for it.
It seems like common sense, but police say there needs to be a change in key culture. that’s why SGI is taking aim with a new commercial mimicking a real-life incident.
In the ad, a man leaves his truck running while he pops into a convenience store. Within seconds, a robber has hopped in the driver’s seat and fled the parking lot. The truck is eventually recovered, trashed and filled with drug paraphernalia
“It’s as easy as locking the doors,” RCMP Sergeant Major Tammy Patterson added. “Don’t leave valuables in the vehicles. Don’t leave hockey sticks, don’t leave spare change, so they’ll move on to the next vehicle, or the next town maybe.”
Outside the agency’s claims office in Regina, two recently recovered stolen vehicles sat on the pavement, scratched, dented, and without tires. Police suspected that one of the vehicles was being used as the thief’s home. The other black SUV had its keys inside when it was stolen from its owners home on May 17th. It ended up being involved in a high-speed chase and was only recovered after police used spike belts to stop it.
And that was a fairly happy ending.
In 2014, Saskatoon teenagers Sarah Wensley and J.P. Haughey were killed by an impaired driver in a stolen truck.
“Pursuits are truly dangerous,” Koch warned. “They’re not going to stop for the police. They have no care for your vehicle. It’s not theirs, so they treat it with no respect at all. It’s a very, very difficult situation we’re in.”
While most stolen vehicles are eventually recovered, more than half are total write-offs, destined for SGI’s salvage yard – the end of the road for one of the province’s most preventable auto crimes.