Rates of theft from auto skyrocket in Ridge, Pitt

RCMP host auto crime awareness event in hopes of reducing the number of cars being broken into.

The number of thefts from autos the first week of this month in Maple Ridge is twice the average five-year rate for that crime in this area.

RCMP say between March 30 and April 5, 41 cars were broken into in Maple Ridge and 21 in Pitt Meadows.

This March alone saw the highest monthly number of thefts from vehicles since 2008.

But despite the crime wave, thieves are still looking for two-bit targets when they break into their cars, often as little as the loose change that’s left inside.

According to Ridge Meadows RCMP, which hosts an auto crime awareness event today (Friday) at Haney Plaza, spare change is the top target when people break into a vehicle.

After that, it’s the old CDs or even books that are rattling around inside the vehicle.

Keys are the most likely to be targeted in the RCMP’s Top 10 list of targets.

Police say many of the thieves arrive on bicycle or on foot, but also drive.

Three-quarters of the time they wait until after 8 p.m. before breaking in.

The culprits are having an easy time of it.

Two-thirds of the times the vehicles were either unlocked, a window was open, or the thief got in by using a device that can unlock a vehicle’s electronic door locks.

After the top three targets, purses and wallets were the fourth-most likely to be taken.

Next on the list of the most popular targets are personal documents such as vehicle insurance or registration. Tools were next to be stolen followed by identification.

Paradoxically, the three most valuable items a thief could take were the most seldom stolen. Cellphones and MP3 players were the eighth most popular, followed by credit or debit cards, with computers, tablets or iPads last on the list.

Civilian media spokesman Dan Herbranson said no particular areas of Pitt Meadows or Maple Ridge are worse than others.

And other cities in Metro Vancouver are also seeing the same wave.

Police are trying to fight back, but they need the public’s help, asking motorists to ensure they lock the vehicles and don’t leave keys inside the vehicles.

RCMP are also parking bait cars around town and loading them with goodies that might attract thieves.

“We are targeting local known offenders, while being on the lookout for traveling criminals from other jurisdictions,” said Supt. Dave Fleugel.