According to the RCMP, in the last two months alone there were 50 thefts from vehicles reported in West Kelowna. There have been 175 in total so far this year.—Image credit: RCMP

West Kelowna cops report spike in theft from vehicles

Police say the number of thefts is up 43 per cent in first seven months of 2017.

Police in the Central Okanagan are not just telling the public to lock it or lose it, they are telling drivers and passengers not to leave valuables in their vehicles at all.

Police are once again reminding vehicle owners to lock their vehicles, remove all valuables and continue to diligently report any suspicious activity in their neighbourhoods to the RCMP.

“RCMP in West Kelowna have noticed a dramatic increase in reports received of theft from vehicles,” said RCMP spokesman Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

“There were a total of 175 police files in 2017 related to theft from motor vehicles generated between Jan. 1 and July 31. During that same time period in 2016, police generated a total of 119 theft related files, an increase of 47 per cent.”

The majority of the thefts were reported in the city’s downtown area. However police say similar thefts have been committed throughout West Kelowna and residents should be mindful that no residential neighbourhood is immune to this type of crime.

“In at least one case, the suspects stole the victim’s drivers licence, birth certificate, credit cards, SIN card and even their passport, which not only opens up that person to be further victimized through identity theft and fraud, but also poses significant challenges for them to obtain replacement forms of identification,” said O’Donaghey.

The RCMP found most of the reported thefts were to from vehicles with unlocked doors, often with valuables left inside in plain sight.

So the police are issuing the following tips and in an attempt to prevent future theft from motor vehicles:

• Don’t leave any property in your vehicle or you should expect to find it gone when you return later

• Typical items stolen from vehicles include purses, wallets, credit cards, personal identification including passports, GPS devices, house or other automotive keys, cash including loose change, clothing and sunglasses

If you see any suspicious people or activities near your vehicle, or a neighbour’s vehicle, call police immediately.

RCMP are telling the public to let them determine if a crime in progress.