The Shawnigan Lake RCMP are reporting they have seen an increase in thefts from unlocked vehicles recently, and much like their counterparts in North Cowichan and Duncan earlier this week, are warning the public to be vigilant.
Several areas of the South Cowichan area have been targeted, including Cobble Hill, Shawnigan Lake, Mill Bay, and the Malahat.
The offenders have been targeting unlocked vehicles parked both on roadways and private property, and occasionally outbuildings such as sheds on private property.
Often small portable items are taken, including change, cell phones, wallets and purses, or other valuables left inside the vehicle or structure.
These thefts are generally occurring overnight and are being reported the next morning to police.
RCMP Const. Ian Wetzel-Eden said a common concern or reason for leaving vehicles unlocked is that people don’t want to pay the deductible for a smashed window.
He said these are crimes of opportunity so it is uncommon for someone to have their window smashed.
“Generally, that only occurs when items of high value are left in plain sight inside a locked vehicle,” Wetzel-Eden said.
“If you don’t leave valuables in plain sight in your vehicle, you are at a much lower risk of being victimized in that way. By contrast, if your vehicle is left unlocked, you make it much easier for the criminal and by extension encourage recidivism in your area.”
Wetzel-Eden said by making a criminal’s “job” easier, you encourage criminal behavior in your community.
“Accordingly, Shawnigan Lake RCMP are asking members of the community to take some actions to aid police in resolving this matter,” he said.
“Firstly, ensure that vehicles and outbuildings are locked and secured to prevent thefts. Secondly, report any suspicious vehicles you may observe in your area; try to make note of make, model, age of vehicle, licence plates, unique features, and any decals or identifying marks.”
Wetzel-Eden said if your neighbourhood doesn’t already have a Block Watch, engage with your neighbours and contact the South Cowichan Community Policing office at 250-929-7222 to find more information about establishing a Block Watch.