Calgary, AB,

Operation Cold Start launches across Alberta

We have partnered with law enforcement agencies across Alberta for Operation Cold Start, a crime prevention initiative aimed at addressing the high number of warm-up auto thefts that occur during the winter months.

Between Oct. 26, 2023, and Jan. 4, 2024, the Calgary Police Service received 114 reports of vehicles that were stolen while they were left running.

“In colder weather, we tend to see more instances of vehicles being stolen after people have left them running to warm up, but running vehicle theft is still a problem year-round,” says Sgt. Nick Wilsher of the Calgary Police Service. “People start their cars to run the heat in the winter or the air conditioning in the summer, or simply for the convenience of being able to jump in and drive away quickly. Unfortunately, thieves can just as easily jump in the vehicle and drive away if the owner has left it unattended. It only takes seconds.”

Any running, unattended vehicle can be a target, however, work vehicles (including delivery vehicles) and pickup trucks are among the most common vehicles stolen in Calgary.

This winter, Calgarians are reminded to:

  • Use a remote starter or stay with your vehicle as it warms up
  • Never leave your keys – neither your primary set nor a spare set – inside your vehicle
  • Use a steering wheel lock
  • Always keep your vehicle locked

It’s not just your car – it’s also what’s in it

The CPS is also reminding Calgarians to never leave children, pets, valuable items or sentimental items inside their vehicles.

“Certain things may be of great importance to you, but they don’t mean anything to a thief,” says Sgt. Wilsher. “When thieves are taking these vehicles, they’re looking for an easy target and a quick getaway. They’re not necessarily noticing or considering that they’re also taking something that may be deeply important to the person they’re stealing from.”

Items you should never leave in your car include:

  • Cellphones
  • Computers or tablets
  • Jewelry
  • Clothing
  • Cigarettes and lighters
  • Shopping packages
  • Garage door openers
  • Documents with your address or personal information, such as driver’s licences, vehicle registration documents and proof of insurance

Learn about your remote or push button start

Remote starters can be a good option for warming up your car in the winter months, but be mindful there may be limitations, depending on the make or model. Ensure your remote starter does not allow someone to drive away without the key.

Many cars also now start with push buttons, connected to a key fob, rather than turning a key in the ignition.

  • Consider how close your key fob needs to be to start the vehicle with the push button, and ensure you keep your keys far enough away from the vehicle when not in use.
  • Determine whether the key fob needs to be continuously near the vehicle after it has started.

Anyone who witnesses a crime in progress can call 911. To report suspicious activity or a crime after it has occurred, call the Calgary Police Service non-emergency line at 403-266-1234. Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers through any of the following methods:

TALK: 1-800-222-8477
APP: P3 Tips