Free locks in Chilliwack to cut rising auto theft numbers

Using a steering wheel lock or an immobilizer can go along way toward preventing auto theft, said ICBC and RCMP with Operation Lock Up

Const. Jodi Lymburner (left) and Cpl. Nicole Delagorgendiere were at UFV Trades and Technology Centre Thursday handing out steering wheel locks to students and staff who own some of the top-ten stolen vehicles listed by ICBC. Auto crime is on the rise in B.C. for the first time in a decade. Chilliwack RCMP

Const. Jodi Lymburner (left) and Cpl. Nicole Delagorgendiere were at UFV Trades and Technology Centre Thursday handing out steering wheel locks to students and staff who own some of the top-ten stolen vehicles listed by ICBC. Auto crime is on the rise in B.C. for the first time in a decade. Chilliwack RCMP

It might sound counterintuitive but older vehicles are at a higher risk of being stolen than flashy new ones.

The number one vehicle stolen in the Fraser Valley was either a 1998 or 2000 Honda Civic, according to the Top 10 list from ICBC.

The older Hondas are second only to F-series Ford trucks from 2005 or 2006.

Using a steering wheel lock or an immobilizer can go along way toward preventing auto theft.

That’s the thinking as Chilliwack RCMP, and ICBC team up this week to launch Operation Lock Up, a program to help protect older model vehicles from being stolen with free steering wheel locks.

They started out with 100 locks to give away to the public, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

“Auto crime is on the rise in B.C. for the first time in a decade,” said RCMP Cpl. Nicole Delagorgendiere.

The first month of 2015 in Chilliwack saw 44 vehicles stolen, compared to only 18 in January 2014, which shows it more than doubled from the same time last year.

In February 2014, there were 27 vehicles stolen, and 32 in February of 2015.

The activities and movements of known prolific offenders make a big impact when it comes to auto crime, said the officer in charge of community policing in Chilliwack.

Four car thieves that came to town earlier in the year were put out of commission when they were taken into custody, and by the end of February the auto theft numbers were down.

“Our theft of auto and theft from auto rates often correlate with who recently gets out of custody and who goes in,” she said.

Officials are trying to get across the message that “prevention and education” are key, and are targeting owners that don’t have immobilizers installed with the lock-up program.

It may be obvious, but it’s crucial for owners to lock and secure their vehicles each and every time.

Nothing should be left inside the vehicle. Anything in view can be a target, from sought-after purses, laptops, or GPS systems, to something as simple as that loonie or toonie left in the tray.

“As well, use an immobilizer device to prevent your vehicle from being stolen. And if it is an older model of a vehicle, which are often easier targets, please use a steering wheel locking device.”

Certain vehicles are more at risk, said ICBC road safety coordinator Mike Weightman.

That’s why they are aiming the program at owners of older vehicles.

“It’s because those vehicles are seen as easier to steal.”

Unfortunately the ones having their older cars or trucks stolen are usually new drivers, lower income workers, or students.

They will be handing out free steering wheel locks, or clubs, to owners of the Top Ten stolen vehicles as listed, upon producing valid proof of ownership. They will be on location:

• Monday, May 4 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Save On Foods in Salish Plaza.

• Tuesday May 5 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Chilliwack Leisure Landing Centre.

They also will be handing out clubs at the Chilliwack Community Policing Office at 45877 Wellington Ave. from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until the clubs are all gone, on a first-come-first-served basis.

ICBC’s Top 10 List of stolen vehicles in the Fraser Valley (2013):

1. Honda Civic 1998, 20002. Ford F-Series 2005, 20063. Honda Accord 1991, 19924. Chrysler (Dodge/Plymouth) Ram 1998, 20015. Chrysler (Dodge/Plymouth) Caravan/Voyager** 1994, 19956. Acura Integra 1992, 19947. Ford Econoline E350 / E450 2002, 2003, 20068. Chevrolet / GMC Silverado / Sierra 1992, 19959. Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee 1993, 199510. Dodge Dakota 1993, 1997

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