Faster than you can pick out just the right holiday gift, a thief can break into your car. Downtown Vancouver attracts thousands of visitors seeking gifts and cheerful winter attractions. Unfortunately, the city also attracts criminals who see ‘treasure-trunks’ of holiday loot in busy parking lots.
The Vancouver Police Department and Canadian Direct Insurance are encouraging shoppers to choose parking facilities with the Safer Parking Award, which identifies parking facilities whose managers and owners have taken extra steps to ensure a safer environment for customers.
Many Safer Parking Award facilities report zero crime occurrences on a monthly basis, and the Safer Parking Initiative has helped reduce crime by an average of 47 per cent in awarded Vancouver parkades.
“Criminals do their own holiday shopping –from the trunk of your car,” warns Detective Phil Ens, Vancouver Police Department Auto Crime Enforcement Unit. “Whenever you leave valuables unattended in your vehicle, they’re at risk of being stolen. People often think that gifts are safe in the trunk, but they’re not.”
“Thieves can be in and out of your car in under a minute. The most commonly stolen items include GPS units, sunglasses, gym bags, purses, backpacks, tools and toolboxes, garage door remotes, smartphones, laptops, tablets, and loose coins and change,” says Colin Brown, Chief Operating Officer of Canadian Direct Insurance and sponsor of the Safer Parking Initiative
Since the program’s inception, the Safer Parking Initiative has grown from five lots to 59 within the City of Vancouver alone, with many more lots being coached to become eligible for the designation.
Theft-from-auto incidents in Vancouver have significantly declined over the last decade. However, thousands of these crimes still occur each year.
Safer holiday shopping parking tips
- Choose a parking lot with the Safer Parking Award logo.
- Don’t store gifts in your trunk. Thieves often follow customers out to their car and break in when they leave.
- Use an anti-theft device. Not only will your car be safer, but you can get a discount on your auto insurance.
- If practical, remove garage door openers and keep insurance papers hidden in your car rather than in your glove box. Together they give a thief your home address, and a way to get in.
- Don’t leave ANY possessions in your vehicle.
Map of Safe Parking sites in Vancouver
Theft-from-auto incidents in Vancouver
- January 2014 to September 2014 – 7,134
- 2013 – 8,020
- 2012 –7,778
- 2011 – 7,249
- 2010 – 8,363
- 2009 – 9,629
- 2008 – 11,047
- 2007 – 11,960
- 2006 – 14,476
- 2005 – 16,293
- 2004 – 17,939
- 2003 – 17,537
- 2002 – 18,858
Feature Image: Santa Clause thief via Shutterstock