British Columbia is driving down auto crime

In the first half of 2012, there's been a 17 per cent drop in vehicle thefts throughout the province

New figures show there has been a significant reduction in rates of auto-theft crimes.

In the first half of 2012, there’s been a 17 per cent drop in vehicle thefts throughout the province.

A decade ago, auto crime was on the rise and British Columbia had one of the highest rates of car theft in North America.

Since the introduction of the Bait Car program in 2002 and with the efforts of police and community volunteers, however, vehicle thefts and break-ins have dropped by 74 per cent and 62 per cent respectively throughout the province.

However, auto crime is still a problem and thieves look for easy targets. Folks who own an older vehicle need to know there is a higher risk of it being stolen or broken into, as late model vehicles often don’t have effective anti-theft devices and are easy to steal.

Consider these tips from ICBC:

• Use an anti-theft device and remove possessions from your vehicle, including shopping bags, spare change, electronics, briefcases, and the vehicle’s spare keys.

• Electronic immobilizers are the best protection. They’re hard-wired into vehicles and shut down the starter, ignition and/or fuel system. They require a special key or electronic device to start the engine and usually attach to your key ring.

• Steering-wheel locks are a good visual deterrent for auto thieves, but offer a lower form of protection.

• Park in well-lit areas, near pedestrian traffic.

• Keep your garage-door opener out of sight. If parking on the street outside your residence, take the garage-door opener with you.

• Wait for the garage-door gate to close behind you when entering a parkade. Thieves could take this opportunity to slip inside.

To learn more about preventing auto crime and to find out how you can get involved, visit ICBC at www.icbc.com/road-safety/prevent-autocrime.