BELLEVILLE – Belleville police started to check parking lots for unlocked vehicles last week, as a part of a province-wide Lock it or Lose it campaign that will run until the end of December.
Officers and volunteers are patrolling parking lots at local shopping centres. They put information tags on vehicles they found to be either unlocked or had valuable items laying out in plain sight. The tag has information on auto safety and tips on how to prevent theft.
“Leaving vehicles unlocked or valuables in plain sight is an invitation for thieves to steal your valuables,” said Insp. Marlene Gray of the Belleville Police.
Thieves aren’t always looking for money or expensive items such as a smartphone or iPod, Gray said.
“Thieves are also looking for anything in a vehicle that allows them to engage in identity theft. Don’t give them the opportunity. Keep anything with your personal information with you,” she said.
Volunteers will head into neighbourhoods and go door-to-door, educating the public on the best ways to keep their vehicles and valuables safe.
According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, identity theft rates increase during the holiday season.
Rick Dubin, the vice-president of investigative services with the bureau, said a parking lot this time of year is a jackpot for a thief.
“In the lead up to the holiday season, there are more cars on the roads, in the parking lots, and everyone is more distracted than normal. This season is prime business time for thieves” Dubin said.
He says an easy way to discourage thieves is to simply lock your doors when you leave the car.
“Together, we can help Ontarians have a fun and safe holiday season,” Dubin said.
Cobourg police started its campaign on in late November. Officers and volunteers went through the Northumberland Mall  parking lot.
Many police stations across Ontario have already kicked off this campaign.
— Barrie Police (@BarriePolice) November 24, 2015 
As the holidays approach, secure your vehicles and keep parcels out if view. #LockItorLoseIt  You can prevent theft.
— OPP East (@OPP_ER) November 22, 2015 
Keep your vehicles locked. Keep your valuables and personal belongings out of clear site at all times. pic.twitter.com/gZMOJ4LdSo 
— Port Hope Police (@PortHopePolice) November 6, 2015 
Here are some of the tips for drivers with unlocked vehicles:
- Never leave your doors unlocked or your keys in the car.
- Don’t leave valuables out in the car.
- Don’t leave ownership and insurance cards in the vehicle.
- Don’t keep a spare key under the car – thieves know exactly where to look for it.
- Drive with your doors locked.
The campaign is sponsored by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police .