Car hopping – or the habit of looking for unlocked cars and breaking into them – has long been a problem in Revelstoke. It’s why a team of RCMP officers and auxiliary were out last Friday evening.
Dubbing themselves the VISE (Vehicle Inventory & Securement Enforcement) team, their goal was to see just how many people leave their cars unlocked, and warn people of the risks.
I joined Const. Gary McLaughlin, his two daughters and RCMP auxiliary officer Eric Scarcella on a patrol of Southside. We left from RCMP headquarters on bicycles at 7 p.m. with the sun slowly setting.
“In winter, this is when it’s pitch black out,” McLaughlin explained.
They stopped only at cars parked on the street, peering in the windows to see if they were unlocked, and to see if there any valuables visible.
If the cars were unlocked, they stuck a “crime prevention notice” under the windshield wiper. On it was a checklist with yes and no questions:
– Does your vehicle have an anti-theft device?
– Are there any personal belongings in plan view?
– Is your vehicle locked?
– Have you taken all suitable steps to prevent auto crime?
A few people came out to find out what was going on, worried they were getting ticketed.
“We’ve been having lots of thefts from vehicles lately, so we’re just going around warning people,” Const. Gary McLaughlin told one woman. “It’s not a ticket.”
The culprits will bump a car first to see if it has an alarm. If it doesn’t, they’ll give the door handle a pull, grab what they can and take off. They normally do this on the way home from the bar.
“It’s locals, absolutely,” said McLaughlin. “The myth that it’s ski bums is absolutely false.”
The results of the walk around, by neighbourhood:
– Johnson Heights: 32 per cent of vehicles unlocked
– Southside: 40 per cent of vehicles unlocked
– Farwell: 16 per cent of vehicles unlocked
– Downtown: 13 per cent of vehicles unlocked
– Arrow Heights: 28 per cent of vehicle unlocked
– Total: 689 cars checked, 156 unlocked (23 per cent)