Calgary police say a two-week public awareness campaign about preventing auto theft allowed officers to get the message out directly to 697 people who left keys in running vehicles.
During Operation Cold Start, patrol officers kept an eye out for vehicles left running while unattended.
“When officers find these vehicles, they take the opportunity to educate the vehicle’s owner about how quickly a vehicle can be stolen and how dangerous stolen vehicles can be to the public,” police said in a release.
On the mornings that Operation Cold Start was running, 32 vehicles were stolen while they were left to warm up.
Last year, 5,758 vehicles were reported stolen in Calgary — an average of almost 16 per day.
Roughly one out of every four stolen vehicles had their keys left inside when they were taken, police said.
“Offenders who steal vehicles often have very little regard for public safety and do not care if the vehicle becomes damaged or involved in a collision,” police said, adding that almost half of the stolen vehicles recovered last year were damaged or missing parts.
Police had this advice for motorists:
- Never leave a vehicle unattended with the keys in the ignition.
- Never leave running vehicles, where the vehicle has been started with a keyless ignition or push-button start, unattended.
- Use a remote starter whenever possible and keep the vehicle locked.
- Use a steering wheel lock to deter thieves.
- Never leave spare keys or garage door openers in or…