There’s been a sharp, steady rise in the number of vehicle thefts in Regina over the last year, and now the city wonders if it’s time to chat with SGI to see if it can help curb that.
From February 2015 to February 2016, thefts and attempted thefts increased by about 106 per cent. Stats show that over the last few years, between 60 and 65 per cent of all reported incidents saw keys left in vehicles.
It’s enough that Mayor Michael Fougere wants to have discussions with the Crown corporation.
“If you leave your keys in your car, what’s the implication of that? What’s the personal responsibility for that? Maybe there’s a discussion, without saying it must be this way, that it affects your insurance and the coverage on your insurance,” he said.
“Could be things like, in the event that your car’s stolen and the keys are in your ignition, your insurance may not cover that, is one example.”
Bigger vehicles like trucks and SUVs are often targetted, police Insp. Darcy Koch explained. He said many of newer model vehicles have chips and you physically need the keys to start them, adding it’s nearly impossible to get them running without keys.
It’s good when residents don’t feel threatened by crime, Koch continued, but sometimes there’s a risk with that.
“They leave keys in their glove box, they leave them in their cup holder. They feel safe in the community which is good for the police service and good for the citizens, however, it’s an easy opportunity for a crime to be committed.”
While the trend of vehicle thefts over the last 10 years has dropped significantly, the recent blip can be attributed partly to drugs. Koch said meth is more prevalent in the Queen City and police are finding more drug addicts involved in these types of thefts, using vehicles in other criminal activity. Officers used to see youth stealing vehicles for a brief joyride. Now, more adults are committing the crime, and they’re learning.
“Criminals have educated themselves. They’re adults. If they’ve been involved in crime before, they know that if ‘I don’t attract attention to myself via my driving action, via damage to a vehicle, the police may not identify me as someone in a stolen vehicle’. That’s become an issue for us,” explained Koch.
He said licence plates are being stolen and switched as well, another trend that’s growing throughout western Canada.
Weather Impacts Crime
Another factor contributing to the spike in vehicle thefts is the mild weather.
It’s inviting for car thieves along with those partaking in a number of other crimes. Property crimes are 36 per cent higher than they were this time last year. Graffiti and thefts have increased considerably. Break-ins to homes and businesses were also higher.
“Unfortunately mild winters are great on people but harsh on crime,” said police Chief Troy Hagen.
He said they’ve seen these types of surges before with warmer winters. Conversely, colder winters usually translates into crime being suppressed, Hagen added.