Calgary, AB,

Operation Cold Start 2018 comes to an end

Yesterday was the last day of Operation Cold Start, which resulted in almost 700 citizens being educated about auto theft prevention over the past two weeks.

Last year in Calgary, 5,758 vehicles were reported stolen – an average of almost 16 vehicles stolen per day. In general, one out of every four stolen vehicles had their keys left inside of them when they were taken.

In response to these alarming numbers, the Service conducted Operation Cold Start for a second year in a row. As part of the operation, officers on patrol keep an eye out for vehicles that are left running and 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.

Throughout the two week operation, officers spoke with 697 vehicle owners who left their keys inside their vehicles. During the same mornings that Operation Cold Start was running, 32 vehicles were stolen while left to warm up.

Many citizens may not realize the extreme risks that can result if their vehicle is stolen. 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. There have been numerous examples of offenders demonstrating high-risk criminal driving in a stolen vehicle, which can put citizens and police officers at risk. In the last six months of 2017, 48% of recovered stolen vehicles were reported to be damaged or have parts missing.

Stolen vehicles are also commonly used to help thieves commit other crimes, including robberies, break and enters, and drug-related crimes.

As Operation Cold Start comes to end, we’re asking citizens to continue to be vigilant to prevent these crimes of opportunities. Citizens who are planning to warm up their vehicle are reminded to:

  • Never leave a running vehicle, where the keys are in the ignition, unattended.
  • 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 your vehicle locked.
  • Use a steering wheel lock to deter thieves.
  • Never leave spare keys or garage door openers in or around your vehicle. Always lock the person door leading from a garage into a residence.
  • Never leave children or pets in a running vehicle.
  • Do not leave valuables, including identity documents and bank cards, in a vehicle, under any circumstances.
  • If you witness a crime, such as a vehicle being stolen, call 9-1-1 and provide as much descriptive information as you can. Never approach a suspect or pursue a stolen vehicle.