Calgary, AB,

Operation Cold Start continues to educate the public

The Calgary Police Service has wrapped up the first week of Operation Cold Start, which has resulted in over 540 citizens being educated about auto theft prevention.

The citywide initiative, which is in its second year, began on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018. During 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 the dangers that stolen vehicles pose to public safety.

Each day, officers record the number of vehicles they find that are left running with the keys inside. Since Monday, officers have located 544 unattended vehicles that were warming up with the keys inside. During these same mornings, 16 vehicles were stolen as they were being warmed up. In November and December 2017, 210 vehicles were stolen while left running.

Vehicle thefts are often crimes of opportunity and the Service is asking citizens to take these opportunities away.

“Many of the vehicle thefts we are seeing, where the keys have been left in the vehicle, are completely preventable,” says District 5 A/Staff Sergeant Lon Brewster. “On average, 16 vehicles are stolen every day in Calgary. With the amount of resources that it takes to respond, track and investigate each stolen vehicle, and the dangerous driving that offenders are demonstrating, we need to work with the community to prevent these thefts in the first place. Operation Cold Start is about letting citizens know that they have a role to play in auto theft prevention.”

Operation Cold Start will continue on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018.

There have been countless examples of the extreme risks that stolen vehicles pose to public and officer safety.

Stolen vehicle offender exhibits reckless disregard for public safety

On Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, at approximately 7:40 a.m., a vehicle owner started his truck in the community of Sunalta and went back inside his house, leaving the keys in the ignition. Despite the victim locking his vehicle with a second set of keys, an unknown male approached the truck and forced his way inside. As the suspect began driving the vehicle away, the victim realized what was happening and pursued the truck on foot. The victim managed to jump inside the box of the truck and attempted to gain access to the cab. A witness then called 9-1-1 to alert police.

The suspect continued driving recklessly with the victim in the back of the truck, attempting several times to cause the victim to fall out. The victim was eventually able to gain access to the cab of his truck and a physical altercation with the suspect took place. The vehicle came to a stop near 10 Avenue and Crowchild Trail S.W., where the struggle continued before the suspect fled the scene. Police arrived and attempted to track the suspect with the assistance of the Canine Unit, however he could not be located.

The victim sustained minor injuries and the investigation to identify and locate this offender is ongoing.

Police vehicle rammed by stolen vehicle

In a second stolen vehicle incident on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, at approximately 8:45 p.m., police were driving through a parking lot, located in the 1200 block of 37 Street S.W., when they spotted a suspicious Ford F-350 Truck. As the officers approached the vehicle, they observed a citizen waving for assistance approximately 30 feet away from the vehicle. Officers drove towards the citizen and engaged in conversation.

As they were speaking with the citizen, the suspicious truck began driving towards the police car. When it became clear that the truck was going to collide with the police car, officers told the citizen to get away from their car. Once the citizen moved away, officers attempted to drive forward, however their vehicle was struck on the driver’s side back door. The truck came to a stop a short distance away.

Officers made sure the citizen was safe and then contained the vehicle and called for assistance. Members from the CPS Tactical Team arrived on scene and arrested the suspect without incident.

The suspect in this case remains in custody and his name and charges will be released once he has seen a Justice of the Peace.

Prevention Tips

A stolen vehicle is much more than an insurance claim and an inconvenience. Offenders who take these vehicles have very little regard for public safety and can put the public and our officers at serious risk of harm. Stolen vehicles are also known to be used to commit other crimes, including robberies, break and enters, and drug-related crimes.

Citizens who are planning to warm up their vehicle on a cold day 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.