Calgary, AB,

Police launching Operation Cold Start for fifth consecutive year

We will be out in the community for the next two weeks in an effort to prevent warm-up thefts in our city. Officers will specifically be looking for suspicious persons and vehicles, known offenders as well as vehicles left running and unsecure.

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 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. Officers will also be on the lookout for known prolific offenders as well as suspicious persons and vehicles.

“We know there are offenders out there who work together to commit these thefts,” says Sgt. Pete Barker of the Calgary Police Service District 8 Community Resource Team. “We have seen instances where multiple offenders travel around the city together looking for these unattended vehicles in neighbourhoods or even outside of convenience stores and coffee shops. When they find an easy-to-steal vehicle, it takes them less than 30 seconds to commit the theft and continue on, looking for another vehicle to target.”

Despite warmer weather and many citizens staying home this year, we have had 217 vehicles stolen while left running and unattended since the beginning of November 2020.

We are asking citizens to help us identify suspicious activity in their area, including:

  • Suspicious people walking around their neighbourhood who seem out of place, are checking vehicles, appear to be loitering or walking aimlessly.
  • Unknown vehicles parked on their street with multiple occupants.
  • Unknown vehicles driving past their street multiple times.

“While there have been fewer warm-up thefts than last year, any amount of preventable crimes is too many,” says Sgt. Pete Barker. “The offenders stealing these vehicles often have little regard for the safety of Calgarians, engage in high-risk and dangerous driving behaviour and use stolen vehicles to commit other crimes that victimize our community.

If a citizen spots something suspicious, they should let us know immediately by calling 403-266-1234. For crimes-in-progress, always call 9-1-1.

Operation Cold Start stats will be sent out through the Service’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

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.