Oh, the irony.
As if to illustrate the problem, the RCMP’s own Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team’s top officials found themselves the victims of the very type of crime they came to Kelowna Thursday to warn the public about.
According to Insp. Peter Jadis, head of IMPACT, in the early hours of Thursday morning, a pick-up truck carrying a snowmobile, brought to Kelowna from the Lower Mainland for an announcement about this season’s launch of the annual “bait” sled program, was stolen. The truck and snowmobile were parked at a local hotel.
Jadis said because both vehicles were equipped with alarms, video recorders and other bait vehicle equipment, they were easily traced and a suspect in the theft was caught in Kelowna later that day with the truck and snowmobile.
“This was a crime of opportunity,” said Jadis at a news conference.
He said while IMPACT is launching the bait sled program in the Interior— similar to the successful bait car program used by police forces across the country—the public is also being asked to do its part.
Owners of snowmobiles are advised to park vehicles carrying snowmobiles in well lit area and, if possible box in the vehicle carrying the snowmobile with other vehicles.
They should also mark their snowmobiles with engraved identification numbers, disable the tow vehicle at night by removing a battery terminal, coil or distributor cap, buy and use anti theft devices, record and photograph all equipment to help investigators in the event a machine is stolen and securely lock all equipment.
The bait vehicle program, now in its 10th year in B.C., has proven successful and now covers cars, truck, ATV and snowmobiles.
While Jadis did not have numbers 2013, he said since January of this year, 151 off-road vehicles have been stolen in this area and 44 were snowmobiles.
With snowmobile prices starting at $12,000 to $15,000, the loss is substantial, he said.
He added in addition to providing the bait vehicles, the police will also be out at night questioning drivers of trucks carrying snowmobiles to make sure they are the rightful owners.
“People should have their paperwork on hand,” said Cpl. Thomas Blackney of the Revelstoke RCMP, which has been instrumental developing the bait sled program because Revelstoke is a popular snowmobiling area.
Crime Stoppers is also turning its attention to fighting the theft of off-road vehicles.
Gerry Guiltenane, co-odinator of the Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers said his organization has put a link on its webpage to the Canadian Police Information Centre so anyone offered a snowmobile at what seems like a “too-good-to-be-true” price, can check to see if it has been reported stolen anywhere in Canada, just by entering the vehicle identification number.
He said it has already helped recover two sleds and a truck.
Const. Kris Clark of the Kelowna RCMP said it is important for the public to do its part as someone could unwittingly be found to be in possession of stolen property if they do not make an effort to check the history of a snowmobile they are planning to buy buy privately or over the internet.
Because the machine could be seized by police, the unwitting buyer could be out of pocket the thousands of dollars they paid for the stolen machine, he said.