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Taking a Club to auto crime

APD Sgt. Mike Novakowski with Indridi Kristjansson putting the new Club on his Honda Accord He was the victim of car theft. The APD and ICBC have launched a program to give anti-theft devices to the drivers of the top three cars stolen in Abbotsford. - John Van Putten
APD Sgt. Mike Novakowski with Indridi Kristjansson putting the new Club on his Honda Accord He was the victim of car theft. The APD and ICBC have launched a program to give anti-theft devices to the drivers of the top three cars stolen in Abbotsford.
— image credit: John Van Putten

Most new vehicles come with anti-theft systems, which has taken a big bite out of car thefts.

On Monday morning, Abbotsford Police an initiative to put a further squeeze on crooks, by handing out free anti-theft devices to owners of older cars.

Before a backdrop of samples of the three most stolen cars in Abbotsford – pre-2001 Honda Accords, Honda Civics and Jeep Cherokees – Const. Ian MacDondald announced Operation Lock-Up. He presented each of the three owners of the vehicles – each a victim of theft – with a Club anti-theft device.

ICBC is giving away 300 of the steering wheel locks in Abbotsford, and another 100 in Mission, to owners of these models which are so popular with thieves.

MacDonald said those auto makes are probably targeted because they are quality vehicles. And, once thieves have a method of stealing a car, they likely stick with it.

"Most of these folks are creatures of habit," he said.

ICBC spokesman Don Miller said the steering wheel locks are "the first line of protection," and a visual deterrent. Most thieves will move on to a car without an anti-theft device, looking for an easy target.

"While people are shopping at the mall, car thieves are out shopping too," said Miller.

Over a seven-year period, auto theft in Abbotsford plunged 72 per cent. There were 1,380 car thefts in the city in 2003. In 2010, there were 390.

"That's a huge chop," said Miller, and he credits anti-theft technology. Most vehicles newer than 2002 are equipped with immobilizers.

Those who have pre-2001 Honda Accords, Civics and Jeep Cherokees can obtain a voucher for a free steering wheel lock at the Abbotsford Police Department at 2838 Justice Way or at the Community Policing Office at Marshall and Abbotsford Way.

Meghan Brine was a recent victim, as her 1996 Civic was taken right out of her driveway in the early morning hours. It was found two days later, but her new tires were gone, and so was her stereo. She said it was a hassle to get to school and university without her Honda.

"I'm pretty excited to get a free Club," she said.

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