The Calgary Police Service is ramping up Operation Cold Start, an effort that will see officers in the community looking to prevent the theft of unattended vehicles.
The initiative first ran in December of 2016 and was created to address the significant number of vehicles that are stolen or broken into in Calgary.
Despite the warmer weather Alberta has seen this winter and with more people at home than normal, there have still been 217 vehicles stolen since November 2020, that were left running and unattended.
Police say these thefts are preventable and contribute to the high rates of auto theft in Calgary and increase risk to public safety.
"We know there are offenders out there who work together to commit these thefts," said Sgt. Pete Barker of the CPS District 8 community resource team. "We have seen instances where multiple offenders travel around the city together looking for these unattended vehicles in neighbourhoods or even outside of convenience stores and coffee shops.
"When they find an easy-to-steal vehicle, it takes them less than 30 seconds to commit the theft and continue on, looking for another vehicle to target."
Police ask that citizens remain vigilant themselves to help identify suspicious activity such as people who seem out of place, checking vehicles, loitering, unknown vehicles parked on streets with multiple occupants, or unknown vehicles driving past a street multiple times.
Sgt. Barker says that while there have been fewer warm up thefts than last year, that any number of preventable thefts is too many.
Citizens are reminded to:
- Never leave a running vehicle unattended
- Use a remote starter when possible
- Use a steering wheel lock to deter thieves
- Not leave valuables visible inside a vehicle.