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Theft from auto on the decline in Vancouver and Surrey

Vehicle break-ins are some of the most reported crimes, but arresting repeat offenders is helping tackle the problem

Electronic sign as part of the Theft-From-Auto Awareness Campaign on the corner of Cambie Street and Dunsmuir Street. Photo: Jennifer Wilson
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Reported by Jennifer Wilson

Car break-ins, which on average cost ICBC and drivers around $14 million per year, are down significantly in Vancouver and Surrey, the province’s most populated cities.

‘Theft from auto under $5,000’ is consistently Surrey’s most reported category of crime and Vancouver’s second most reported. 2016 saw a rise of 20 per cent in both cities however, by the end of the year the numbers are expected to be down by as much as 18 per cent in Vancouver.

Focusing on prolific offenders has helped reduce these crimes by 14 per cent in Surrey, said Cpl. Scotty Schumann, media relations officer at Surrey RCMP.

“We made a significant number of arrests this year and last year, all of people known to us and that would have a significant effect,” Schumann said.

Repeat thieves often work specific neighbourhoods and will target cars that have visible coins or small items in the vehicle. Schumann said often, valuables are just a bonus.

While numbers are down in Vancouver, Sgt. Jason Robillard of the Vancouver Police Department said it id difficult to pinpoint why the number of reported crimes spiked last year. He said changes in population density could have an effect on reporting from year to year.

Bryan Kinney, associate professor at SFU’s School of Criminology said that when comparing Vancouver and Surrey, it is important to remember that both have different methods of recording statistics. However, larger cities have higher numbers of low-level crimes like break-ins.

“Crime data are terrible for quality. Less than 20 per cent of crime is ever reported to police, especially less serious crimes, property offences are typical for non-reporting,” Kinney said.

In Vancouver, the West End and the Central Business District have consistently been the hardest hit areas of for theft from vehicles. The VPD is currently promoting its annual Theft-From-Auto Awareness Campaign downtown.

Paul Goodman, road safety coordinator for ICBC said there are an average of 13,000 vehicle break-ins in the province every year, the vast majority of which take place in the Lower Mainland.

The most stolen items are smartphones, according to ICBC.

 

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