Authorities saw a spike in the number of motor-vehicle thefts in Squamish in 2012 in spite of the overall downward trend since the police agencies and ICBC implemented the bait-car program in 2003.
Last week, in an effort to curb the frequency of items being stolen from motor vehicles when left unattended, the Integrated Municipal-Provincial Auto Crime Team (IMPACT) is expanding the bait-car program in an effort to reduce the number of items being left in vehicles when the vehicles are left unattended, officials announced.
Overall, the IMPACT bait-car program in the Lower Mainland has been wildly successful. Since 2003, the incidence of auto theft is down 73 per cent, according to statistics.
In Squamish, while approximately 60 cars were stolen in 2003, that number was around 10 in 2012. That number still represents a 250 per cent increase over 2011, when just four were reported stolen in Squamish. Authorities said those interpreting the data should exercise caution because the sample size so small. However, the overall trend is downward, officials said in a statement.
Tom Webster, an ICBC road safety co-ordinator, on Friday (Feb. 1) said the IMPACT team is working to apply the strategy used to curb auto theft to do the same for thefts from motor vehicles.
ICBC's statistics for Squamish show the number of thefts from motor vehicles in Squamish at around 100 in 2003. That number fell to around 20 in 2009 and '10, but rose to around 30 in both 2011 and 2012.
The expanded bait-car program will see authorities leave valuables equipped with electronic tracking devices in vehicles parked in areas where the number of vehicle break-ins has been high. Small, virtually invisible surveillance cameras are also being placed in the vehicles to take pictures of suspects, Webster said.
“Those pictures are sent to a dispatcher in real time,” he said.
Webster acknowledged that in Squamish, a high percentage of vehicle break-ins during the past couple of years have occurred in areas frequented by tourists, especially the Stawamus Chief and Shannon Falls provincial park parking lots. But he said there may also be areas within Squamish that are frequently targeted by thieves.
“These would be places where thieves most likely wouldn't be seen but there would be vehicles parked there,” he said.
Citizens can help curb the incidence of such crimes by not leaving valuables in vehicles when left unattended. As well, those who own vehicles not equipped with anti-theft systems are urged to purchase either physical or electronic anti-theft devices, Webster said.
For more information, including other prevention tips, please visit www.icbc.com/news/2013jan31-01