Mounties are looking to educate the public about vehicle theft.

From Jan.31 until Feb.6, Mounties will be taking part in Operation Cold Start with the goal of educating Albertans and working with the public to reduce vehicle theft. Approximately 25 per cent of stolen vehicles in Alberta are stolen while idling, and police see far more of these thefts during the winter months.  

Since the beginning of Dec. 2021, there have been four reported vehicle thefts in the Fort Saskatchewan RCMP's district; one in Fort Saskatchewan, one in Bruderheim, and two in Lamont County. 

The Operation Cold Start initiative will see police officers patrol for unattended, idling vehicles to determine whether they are locked or have keys in the ignition.  

Vehicles can be stolen in seconds by thieves lying in wait. Often, thieves will look for people who start their cars and leave them unattended as they return to their houses or into a store. 

"Alberta has the highest per capita auto theft rate in the country, and approximately 25 per cent of those vehicles are stolen while idling with the keys left in the vehicle," said RCMP Superintendent Mike McCauley   

"This drives up insurance rates for Albertans, and these files take a great deal of time to investigate. This project will prevent some of these crimes during the project, and ideally, thanks to the educational component of the project, will change Albertan's habits. It is a small investment tackling one of the root causes of this crime." 

Police have also offered some tips to keep your vehicle safe: 

  • If possible, look into command start options as a means to warm your vehicle. 
  • Steering wheel locking devices are effective options that can help mitigate theft. 
  • Ensure that you are in the vehicle when starting your car or allowing the engine to warm up before driving. 
  • Never leave valuable items like purses, wallets, keys or change in an unoccupied vehicle. 
  • Always place keys to vehicles in a safe place, out of plain sight and in a secure location. 
  • Lock vehicle doors all the time, even if you are parked in your driveway or garage at home. 
  • Never leave your vehicle unattended if it is running or the keys are in it.