Ottawa police say more than 1,200 vehicles have been stolen in the city so far this year, including 85 this month alone.
Vehicle thefts have been a perennial problem for the Ottawa Police Service and police say their work continues to disrupt thieves, but they’re reminding residents to remain vigilant and secure their vehicles.
“This isn’t just limited to one part of the city,” said Const. Mike Cudrasov. “We’re starting to see it in several different pockets.”
A heat map provided by the Ottawa Police Service showing areas where vehicles have been reported stolen. (Ottawa Police Service/handout)
Statistics provided by the Ottawa Police Service show 262 vehicles have been reported stolen in Barrhaven, 205 have been reported stolen in Orléans and 130 have been reported stolen in Stittsville and Kanata. More than 350 vehicles were reported stolen in central Ottawa and 199 thefts were reported in Ottawa South.
There are also reports in Richmond, Manotick, Greely, Osgoode, Kanata and Navan.
Police say late model luxury SUVs and light trucks continue be commonly targeted by thieves, but newer models of the Rav4, Honda CRV, Jeep Grand Cherokee as well as Ford F-Series trucks have been stolen.
Vehicles that are equipped with a proximity key (i.e., push-button start), have also been targeted by thieves, police said.
In addition, police are warning that the thieves could be armed. Police have seized Tasers, pepper spray and crowbars during arrests related to stolen vehicles. Police urge residents to call 911 if they spot someone stealing a car.
“For your own safety, DO NOT (sic) engage the thief,” police warn. “Further to that, if you have the ability to track your vehicle once it has been stolen, do not follow the vehicle. Please call 911 and advise the operator that you have a tracking device on the vehicle.”
Theft prevention tips
- Park inside a garage if available (in Ottawa to date, no vehicles have been stolen from inside a garage, police say);
- Block your vehicle in tightly in front of a second less sought after vehicle or a barricade;
- If you do not have a garage or second vehicle, one of the most reliable techniques is to install an after-market vehicle immobilizer and alarm;
- Use a steering wheel lock (i.e. “Club”) to deter thieves, though police note that thieves can cut the steering wheel to remove it; A club works best when combined with a secondary anti-theft device that may not be as visible to the thief;
- Install after-market tracking devices, GPS or air tag trackers – many of these have the ability to notify the owner’s phone if the vehicle leaves the established perimeter;
- If you use tracking devices, be mindful that the thief may also be able to detect that the vehicle is being tracked. Ensure they are well hidden in a less obvious location;
- If you find a tracking device in your vehicle or receive a message on your phone that you are being tracked, please call police, as this is one means that thieves use to find a targeted vehicle. They typically return under the cover of darkness to steal it;
- Install an Engine Control Module (ECM) port-lock;
- Install motion detection lights and exterior surveillance cameras at home as these can act as a deterrent;
- Keep in mind that thieves have returned to steal the replacement vehicle when a vehicle has been stolen, so remain vigilant;
- Neighbourhood watch is still the best defense – so please report any suspicious activity immediately to police at 613-236-1222. Call 911 to report a crime in progress.
- When parking your vehicle at shopping malls or sporting events, for example, always lock your doors and activate any security features. Thieves scout these areas and will steal vehicles day or night.
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