By Staff Reporter
In malls filled with twinkling stores that echo with Christmas carols lurk people bent on ruining the holidays.
They watch unseen as you pile presents into your car and head back inside to complete your shopping.
To stop thieves from turning seasonal cheer into tears, Maple Ridge’s downtown business improvement association, Ridge Meadows RCMP and ICBC are reminding shoppers to be extra alert.
“We’re working together to reduce auto crime in our community,” said Ineke Boekhorst, executive director of the business improvement association.
According to police, thefts from vehicles spike in Decembers as opportunistic thieves targeted harried, careless shoppers.
Since the beginning of December, “Operation Grinch” has been hitting Valley Fair and Haney Place Mall with brochures urging shoppers to stop leaving valuables in their cars.
If you need to drop bags off and head back to the mall, maybe it’s best you get into your car and drive to a different parking spot, said Charlene Winter, a crime prevention and volunteer coordinator with Ridge Meadows RCMP.
“We all do it. You’re hands get full. The bags get heavy.”
Included in the brochures is a sign with a message to would-be thieves telling them there’s nothing in the car to steal and begging them to not steal the sign.
Winter says a lot of people forget that a car break-in can happen in mere minutes.
“It’s just not top of mind for them. That’s why we are trying to create awareness about it so people are constantly thinking about it,” she added.
• You can pick up an Operation Grinch brochure on Tuesday Dec. 18 at Valley Fair Mall and Haney Place Mall or at the RCMP detachment and community policing station in Pitt Meadows.
Follow these simple steps and you can reduce the chance your car will be broken into:
• park in a well-lit area;
• remove everything from your car including sunglasses, loose change, cigarettes, CD’s, and clothing. Thieves will steal anything;
• place the crime prevention brochure with its message to thieves flat on the car seat closest to the sidewalk, facing the window.
– Ridge Meadows RCMP