Car thefts in Maple Ridge have dropped 78 per cent in the past decade, with police crediting the bait car program for much of that decrease.
The latest statistics show an 12 per cent drop with 140 cars reported stolen from Maple Ridge in 2012 compared to 120 last year.
Pitt Meadows, meanwhile, saw a 75 per cent decrease in vehicle thefts and 42 per cent fewer break-ins in 2013 compared to 2003, when auto crime incidents in B.C. reached an all-time high.
Across the region, there were just 4,700 cars stolen last year, a marked drop from 21,000 cars stolen in 2003, a year before the first bait cars were launched.
ICBC road safety director John Dickinson said the payoff in reduced auto insurance claims has been dramatic.
ICBC handled $98 million in stolen auto claims in 2003, when an average of 70 cars were stolen every day in B.C.
By 2013 that had dropped to $27 million claims, or 17 stolen vehicles per day.
Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said the number of vehicles not stolen last year – compared to 2003 – was equivalent to filling B.C.’s largest ferry with vehicles 40 times over.
The bait car program, run by the Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team, has since expanded to include boats, ATVs, snowmobiles, trailers and other “bait property.”
Thefts from auto have also declined about 68 per cent in B.C. over the last decade.
Insp. Peter Jadis, the head of IMPACT, said the team’s officers are now targeting larger scale auto rings that are running chop shops and, in some cases, simply stealing cars for the value of the metal.
“A car can be reduced to $200 to $300 worth of recycled metal,” Jadis said. “That’s something fairly new we’re seeing.”
Police say the items most often stolen from vehicles are: smartphones; other personal electronics like tablets, laptops and GPS units; work tools; credit cards and identification; stereo equipment; cash and change; car parts and accessories; garage door openers; sunglasses; and keys.
Thieves who snatch garage door openers from a vehicle and get the home address from the vehicle registration continues to be a concern.
Keys stolen from clothing in gyms and rec centres are also a way thieves can get into cars and bypass immobilizers.
The most frequently stolen vehicles in Metro Vancouver last year were older model Honda Civics or Accords and Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Caravan/Voyageurs. Ford F-series pickup trucks (2005-2006) were among the most targeted vehicles in the Fraser Valley.
Terry David Zimmerman made this year’s list of most wanted car thieves.
The 50-year-old is wanted by Ridge Meadows RCMP on allegations of possessing stolen property, using a stolen credit card and possessing ID documents without lawful excuse.
According to RCMP, Zimmerman has a very lengthy criminal record, dating back to 1983. He is a known car thief with property crime convictions in multiple jurisdictions throughout the Lower Mainland.
– with files from Monisha Martins