Thursday, 06 December 2012 08:58

Car shoppers on the prowl in Swift Current

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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While Christmas shoppers in Swift Current are looking for the perfect gift for their loved ones, some individuals prefer to do their shopping by stealing items from vehicles.

Staff Sgt. Al MacDonell of the Swift Current City RCMP said thefts from vehicles is an ongoing issue with which his officers are trying to deal.
The Swift Current RCMP has received regular reports of thefts from vehicles in recent months, going back to the summer period. The most recent incidents occurred over the Nov. 24 weekend, when three thefts from vehicles were reported.
“We believe it’s what you call ‘car shopping,’” he said. “There are groups of individuals who will just wander around, usually at night. ... If it’s dark and there are no witnesses around they’ll just help themselves to whatever is in your vehicle.”
These random acts will target vehicles parked on the street or in some cases also on private property.
“A little of both,” he said. “Mostly on the street, I would say, and it’s not in any specific location in the city. It’s all over and in random places.”
MacDonell has been frequently reminding residents to lock their vehicle doors and not to leave any items in plain view inside, but not everyone is following these basic precautions.
“Just leaving no target visible in your car would increase the safety of it not being entered,” he said. “A lot of people leave their cell phones or their wallets or purses laying right on the console in their vehicle. It’s just an open invitation, whether your vehicle is locked or not.”
In previous years unlocked vehicles were the main target, but MacDonell said that is changing and there are more cases of broken windows to get access to items inside.
“Now they’re becoming a little more aggressive, I suppose, in that they’ll actually break your window if you’re going to leave something out that’s attractive to them,” he mentioned.
According to MacDonell it is difficult to determine if there is a trend of increased thefts during the festive season.
“Maybe it’s more noticeable when gifts are stolen out of vehicles because it’s obviously not acceptable to most people for that to happen,” he said. “So I would say that it’s just more noteworthy. We don’t know that there’s necessarily an increase.”
The RCMP is also investigating two recent break-ins at local businesses, which occurred on Friday, Nov. 23, and the following night.
“We have no idea yet whether they were related,” he said. “The investigations are still continuing into them.”
The installation of a security alarm at a business premise will certainly make a difference, but MacDonell felt basic precautions are necessary.
“There’s the odd time when an employee will leave a door open and they forget to lock it when they go home,” he said. “So there’s a number of reasons why businesses get hit.”
A precautionary approach for those who are planning to travel during the festive season will also prevent some unpleasant surprises when people return home.
A neighbour can be asked to look after one’s house by turning lights on and off at random times, cleaning the driveway and steps from snow and picking up the mail.
“Nothing is more attractive to somebody who wants to break into your house than to see an overflowing mailbox,” he said. “That’s a pretty good indicator that nobody’s home, little things like that.”
MacDonell said Swift Current RCMP members will be on duty during the festive season to ensure people’s safety, especially when they are out driving on the roads.
“Everyone will notice a little bit of an increased police presence because one of our main focuses at that point is impaired drivers,” he mentioned.
People should therefore plan ahead when they are attending a function to ensure there is a designated driver, public transit or a taxi.
“Nothing ruins a holiday more than getting picked up for impaired driving or being involved in a collision and there’s somebody impaired,” he said. “So we just recommend that people be thoughtful and be safe out there.”

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