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Increase in car thefts in Calgary linked to drug addiction

(Calgary Police Service)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Vehicle thefts were up this past summer in Calgary.

Police say many of the incidents were linked to residential break-ins, and many of the thieves were motivated by drug problems.

There was a nearly 30 per cent surge in vehicle thefts in July, and an over 17 per cent increase in August, compared to the same months in 2017.

Inspector Joe Brar said the warm weather played a part.

“Which led to an increase in residential break and enters, and one of the trends we were seeing was vehicle keys being stolen during break and enters, and either the offenders stealing the vehicle at the same time, or returning at a later date to steal the vehicle,” he said.

But, he said police are noticing another pattern when picking up suspects.

“We’re seeing a strong link to drug activity, and what I mean by that is addictions problems,” Brar said.

Calgary’s police chief also referenced an increase in drug-fuelled auto thefts, when questioned about a stolen truck incident that led to an officer-involved shooting Monday.

While the motivations of would-be car thieves is a part of a much bigger problem police are trying to tackle in the city, they are urging Calgarians to reduce opportunities to steal.

“We’re supporting a routine called the 9 p.m. routine, which is just a reminder for citizens to follow a check-list at nighttime before they go to bed,” Brar said.

“It includes simple things like making sure your car door is locked, bringing your garage door openers in from your vehicle, making sure your vehicles are secure, windows are locked, and that will both help prevent break and enters and vehicle thefts.”

With the winter months coming up, police are also re-launching Operation Cold Start.

“Which is a reminder to citizens to not leave their vehicles running (unattended),” Brar said.