Twelve charged after stolen-vehicle sting in Abbotsford

Police have put a big dent in the number of vehicles being stolen in Abbotsford.

Police have put a big dent in the number of vehicles being stolen in Abbotsford.

Const. Ian MacDonald said 12 people, including three young offenders, were arrested and charged after a rash of auto thefts in January and February.

At the peak, there was an average of 17 to 20 vehicles being stolen each week, compared to the current average of four.

“The department’s goal is to have less than one theft of auto a day. We were clearly not meeting that objective, which is what generated the need for us to do this project,” MacDonald said.

The crime reduction unit worked with the crime analysis unit to break down the issue.

Several offenders were identified, eight of them prolific, who were known for stealing vehicles. Some had recently been released from prison or had moved to the community.

Surveillance teams, undercover officers, bait cars and other tactics were used.

MacDonald said the vehicles most often targeted by the thieves were Honda Civics and Accords, as well as Ford and Nissan pick-up trucks.

Those arrested were either stopped in stolen cars or were in the process of trying to steal one.

MacDonald said one offender, 36-year-old James Paul Wood, has 103 criminal convictions on his record. Another, Travis Gardner Baxter, has 17 convictions, and is only 21 years old.

Of the 12 charged, the two were among the top-five most prolific offenders, along with Jeffrey Brian Aubie, 34; James Stephen Ekman, 36; and Edward Leo Forcier, 37.