Watch your possessions in the Christmas frenzy

Be proactive this Christmas season and take part in the All Valuables Removed Program.

Ho. Ho. Hold on to your holiday shopping, or at the very least make sure it’s safely tucked away out of sight!

It may be hard to believe (depending on when you are reading this), but the holiday season is once again fast upon us. With that, we know we will see busy stores and shopping malls as folks run around preparing to gather with friends and family.

As we begin to rush around, it’s easy to be distracted. We’ve all been guilty of taking a shortcut or two along the way. Sometimes this means leaving your vehicle running as we stop in somewhere ‘for a second’, forgetting to lock your car doors or stacking your packages in the back seat instead of the trunk.

The trouble is, there are more than a few people out there who have not grasped the spirit of the season but they are all too ready to grab any valuables or packages in your vehicle.

Thefts from motor vehicles increased from 6,482 in 2017 to 8,063 in 2018. In 2017 there were also 2,327 vehicles stolen in Winnipeg; this increased to 2,797 in 2018. Thefts from vehicles are increasing in Winnipeg. Between 2013 and 2017 we have seen a 27% increase.

Thefts from vehicles can occur anywhere and anytime however, the majority of thefts from vehicles occur in parking lots and on residential/private property, i.e. vehicles parked in driveways and on streets. Lock your car.

Most property crimes are crimes of opportunity. That is why we continue to say education and awareness are cornerstones in crime prevention.

Our officers are aware of these crime trends and the increased interest in parking lots over the holiday season. We often working in partnership with shopping mall security teams to make shopping malls and parking lots as safe as possible for everyone.

You can reduce the likelihood of being a target of these crimes by taking an active role in crime prevention by following these simple steps:

• Remove valuables and shopping bags from view. This includes removing loose change and electronic devices.

• Don’t leave personal identification, vehicle registration or insurance certificates, or credit cards in your vehicle.

• Never leave your vehicle running and unattended.

• Always close windows and lock all doors.

• Never leave your car keys house keys or garage door opener in your vehicle.

• Park in well-lit areas with pedestrian traffic.

One of the new initiatives we’ve launched is called the All Valuables Removed Program. It is designed to help you protect your vehicle and belongings from theft and vandalism. Not just during the holidays – but year-round.

Displaying the bright yellow theft prevention card can be a deterrent to thieves and can help save you reporting time, insurance costs, missed work and towing charges. It also acts as a reminder to other drivers to protect their valuables.

Cards are available at any of our four police stations.

Should you be panicked? No. Should you be mindful of crimes of opportunity and the steps you can take to reduce the likelihood you will be victimized by a theft from a vehicle. Absolutely.

Crime prevention starts with you.

By Patrol Sgt. Phil Penner and Constable Garnie McIntyre, members of Crime Prevention Section, Winnipeg Police Service.