Letnick: Don’t be a victim of recreational vehicle theft

www.crimestoppers.net features a ‘Hot Recs’ page where vehicle identification numbers can be checked to see if they've been reported stolen.

The excitement of buying a new recreational vehicle can cause buyers to overlook one huge concern—is this vehicle stolen? If it hasn’t crossed your mind, it should—and Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers Society has a new way to investigate before you buy.

The Central Okanagan area has a high percentage of ATVs and snowmobiles that are never recovered, so Crime Stoppers started a program called ‘Hot Recs’ to help recover some of this stolen property and prevent it from getting into the hands of innocent buyers.

The society’s website, www.crimestoppers.net, features a ‘Hot Recs’ page which includes a link to the Canadian Public Information Centre. Here, the public can query the vehicle identification numbers to determine if they have been reported stolen to the police.

On the ‘Hot Recs’ page, you’ll see a list of recreational vehicles that have recently been stolen. It’s hoped this might help generate leads on the whereabouts of these items. It’s worth noting that all tips to Crime Stoppers are anonymous, and can be made through the Crime Stoppers website or by phone at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

So far, two snowmobiles and a trailer have been successfully recovered locally. The society is currently fundraising in the hopes of adding other vehicles to the ‘Hot Recs’ program, such as heavy duty equipment and cargo trailers which are also popular with thieves.

When it comes to preventing the theft of your recreational vehicles, Crime Stoppers offers several helpful tips. Park your vehicles in a well-lit area, with lots of pedestrian traffic if possible, to deter thieves who do not like to be seen. At the same time, never park your vehicle in a place where it can easily be loaded onto a truck by thieves.

Never leave an ignition key in the machine while unattended, and invest in anti-theft devices for your vehicle and snowmobile. Disable your tow vehicle when not in use—do not make it easy to lose both your truck and your ATV or sled at the same time.

In the event your vehicle or machine are stolen, it’s extremely helpful if you’re able to provide the full serial number to police. Keep a separate record of your registration number, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), and other ownership papers.

I’d like to thank coordinator Gerry Guiltenane and everyone at the Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers Society for the work they do to prevent these crimes in our community. Let’s all do our part to stop thieves and protect our valuables.