The Abbotsford Police Department (APD) is reporting a significant hike in its theft-from-auto statistics.
Const. Ian MacDonald said the overall crime rate in the community has declined this year over 2016 – including a five per cent drop in property crime – but those numbers are not being reflected in the incidents of thefts from vehicles.
MacDonald said there have been 859 reported thefts so far this year (to May 21), compared to 794 for the same period last year. That represents an eight per cent increase.
He said April and May of this year are particularly alarming, producing “some of the worst” numbers seen in recent years.
April had 207 reported thefts – the highest number in the past year – and there were 182 for the first three weeks of May, compared to 123 in the same period in 2016. This represents a 48 per cent increase.
MacDonald said the crimes have been committed across Abbotsford, although the last two months have seen a concentration of thefts near the hospital, Mill Lake and Old Clayburn Road.
He said many of the thefts have occurred from unlocked vehicles, although locked cars are also being targeted.
MacDonald said the items being stolen include electronics, purses and wallets that are often left out in the open, but items locked up in trunks have also been taken.
He said thieves often wait for people to leave their vehicles at parks and, anticipating that they will be gone for awhile and that they have items in the trunk, will break into the car and pop the trunk lever.
MacDonald said the APD is increasing patrols and targeting prolific offenders.
As well, bait cars and bait merchandise have been deployed in some of the harder hit areas of the city.
“Those police responses, in combination with owners making a concerted effort to lock their vehicles and remove valuables, can reverse this trend,” he said.