The city has seen a 48 per cent hike in the theft of passenger vehicles so far this year compared to the same period in 2012, according to the Abbotsford Police Department (APD).
Const. Ian MacDonald said 92 vehicles were stolen this year from Jan. 1 to April 8, compared to 62 last year.
He said most of these are older vehicles manufactured in the 1990s, before anti-theft devices were built in.
Some were stolen while they were left unlocked or while they were left running with the keys inside during colder weather.
MacDonald said the thefts have occurred at locations across the city, and the hike can be attributed to “pods of people” who are prolific auto thieves.
Spikes in specific crimes can occur when offenders either move to the community or when they are released from prison.
MacDonald said the APD’s crime reduction and crime analysis units are working to identify and target the people responsible for the stolen vehicles.
“We have increased overt and covert enforcement, but we recognize that prevention can also contribute to improving on the trend,” he said.
Conversely, theft from autos is down 12 per cent through the first quarter of 2013.
But MacDonald said many motorists are still leaving valuables inside their vehicles. Items recently stolen have included wallets, purses, electronics and, in one case, a set of crystals from a mining operation.
ICBC and the APD continue to offer free steering wheel locks to registered owners of older vehicles, including Hondas; Chevy, Ford and GMC pickups; and Jeeps.
More information on that program is available at the community policing office at 34194 Marshall Rd.
Last year, the APD released statistics showing that the first three months of the year are the most common for vehicles to be stolen in Abbotsford.