Calgary, AB,

Police launch Operation Cold Start

The Calgary Police Service will once again be conducting Operation Cold Start as a way to educate citizens about warm-up thefts.

Warm-up thefts are crimes of opportunity, where car thieves target vehicles that are left running and unattended. These thefts are preventable, contribute to the high rates of auto theft in our city and create significant risks to public safety.

Operation Cold Start is a crime prevention initiative that was started in December 2016 to address the high number of vehicles that are left running in our city. As part of the operation, officers patrol communities looking for vehicles that are easy targets for thieves because they are left running and unattended. When officers find these easy targets, they take the opportunity to educate the driver about how quickly vehicles can be stolen and how dangerous their car could become in the hands of a criminal.

In the first nine months of 2018, there were 4,546 passenger vehicles stolen throughout Calgary – approximately 17 per day. In November 2019, there were 80 vehicles stolen while left running by Calgarians. Last winter (November 2018 to April 2019), a total of 494 vehicles were stolen while left running.

“This is our fourth year running Operation Cold Start and many Calgarians seem to be getting the message. However, we still continue to see warm-up thefts occurring on a daily basis during the winter months,” says Staff Sergeant Graeme Smiley of the CPS District Support Unit. “We are asking citizens to help us reduce the number of auto thefts by using a remote starter or staying with their vehicle while it warms up. We know that car thieves are out looking for vehicles that are easy to steal and we need the public’s help to take this opportunity away.”

Auto theft offenders routinely engage in high-risk criminal driving behaviour, have little regard for the safety of Calgarians, and do not care if a vehicle becomes damaged or involved in a collision. More than 41 per cent of all stolen vehicles that have been recovered in 2019 were reported to be damaged or involved in a collision.

Operation Cold Start stats will be sent out through the Service’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Additional public education days are being planned for January 2020, weather dependent.

Citizens who are planning to warm up their vehicle are reminded to:

  • Never leave a running vehicle unattended, if the keys are inside the vehicle or if the vehicle has been started with a keyless ignition or push-button start.
  • Use a remote starter whenever possible and keep your vehicle locked.
  • If you are warming up your vehicle with the keys in the ignition or with a push-button start, stay with your vehicle.
  • Use a steering wheel lock to deter thieves.
  • Never leave spare keys or garage door openers in or around your vehicle.
  • Never leave children or pets in a running vehicle.
  • Do not leave valuables, including identity documents and bank cards, in a vehicle.
  • Report suspicious activity to police immediately by calling 403-266-1234 or 9-1-1 for crimes in progress.