Auto thefts reach new high in annual crime stats

Police are again asking the public to lock their vehicles and not leave keys inside after revealing a significant jump in auto theft.

Through increased focus and strategizing, police and their partners managed to successfully curb the problem.

But vehicle thefts have once again skyrocketed in Regina, this time for an entirely different reason — and police are again calling on a seemingly heedless segment of the public to help bring those numbers down.

In year-end 2018 crime statistics released by the Regina Police Service during Wednesday’s Board of Police Commissioners meeting, it was revealed the city saw auto thefts increase 51.5 per cent from the year before.

And despite the fact both the city police and SGI have been repeatedly attempting to hammer home to the public not to leave vehicles unlocked with keys inside, many people continue to disregard that advice. Just this February alone, a whopping 58 per cent of auto thefts were of vehicles in which the keys or key fobs had been left inside.

The fact is, according to information presented at the meeting, the face of vehicle thieves has changed. It’s no longer kids on a joyride, but often people with drug addictions looking for transportation to commit offences to support their habit.

Drug dependency — particularly involving meth — has grown rapidly over the past few years, and lies at the heart of much of the city’s crime. Chief Evan Bray said police are doing all they can, making numerous arrests of those involved in vehicle theft and other offences. But, at the end of the day, there’s only so much police can do.

While police are currently working on a strategy, Bray said much of the battle comes down to changing public behaviours.

“Ultimately, it’s not about blaming the victim, because we will continue to arrest and hold the offenders accountable,” he said. “I can guarantee you that, and we do a very good job of that.

But there’s things that people can do to lower the likelihood that their car or their vehicle is going to be stolen, and that greatly increases ultimately community safety.”