Abbotsford Police program designed to reduce auto theft

Abbotsford Police launched a new program Wednesday designed to reduce auto theft in the community.

Operation No Free Ride was introduced as a partnership with Canadian Tire, which is promoting the sale of anti-theft devices and displaying signs about the program in the store and on shopping carts.

Sgt. Mike Novakowski said that last year in Abbotsford, an average of 1.5 cars per day were stolen. The Abbotsford Police Department (APD) set a goal of reducing that number to one car per day.

Currently, the number sits at 1.3 – a reduction of 11 per cent.

Operation No Free Ride developed from there.

"Our goal wasn't quite being reached, and we wanted to improve awareness," Novakowski said.

Earlier this year, the APD offered free steering wheel locks to drivers of the top-three most-stolen vehicles in Abbotsford: pre-2001 Honda Accords, Honda Civics and Jeep Cherokees. Later, pre-2002 Dodge trucks were added to the list.

Operation No Free Ride expands to include everyone, although the anti-theft devices must be purchased.

Teen drivers are also part of the program. Novakowski said each secondary school in Abbotsford will post information about the program and offer a draw for a prize package that includes an anti-theft device, a vehicle emergency tool and Abbotsford Heat hockey team items.

"We want them to start young (knowing) that their vehicle can be the subject of auto theft."

Trevor Hutt, promotions and seasonal manager at Canadian Tire, said the store didn't hesitate to get involved when approached by the APD.

"We just want to have a safe community and promote that with our customers and potential customers that Abbotsford is a safe place," he said.

Novakowski hopes that other local businesses join the program. For more information, call 604-859-5225.

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