The Alberta RCMP, along with counterparts with provincial law enforcement agencies, is running Operation Cold Start, an initiative which aims to reduce the theft of idling automobiles left to warm up ahead of Winter commutes.
“Warming up your vehicle briefly before your commute might seem convenient, but this convenience can turn into a serious problem when your vehicle is stolen. Vehicle-related crimes often occur due to opportunistic situations,” said Corporal Mike Fulton, of the Mounties Community Safety and Wellbeing Branch.
Operation Cold Start aims to educate Albertans on proactive measures to protect their vehicles, police say, noting that vehicle theft has broader implications beyond the immediate loss for vehicle owners. It contributes to higher insurance costs province-wide and stolen vehicles are often used to commit further crimes and are often resold to unsuspecting buyers.
The operation runs until Friday, having kicked off at the start of the week, and will involve various activities by law enforcement to help motorists enhance vehicle security. This includes checking to see whether unattended, idling, and unsecured vehicles have keys in the ignition.
In a news release, the Alberta RCMP offers the following tips for vehicle safety:
- If you can’t park in a garage or driveway, ensure that you’re parking in a visible well-lit area.
- Visible anti-theft devices like steering wheel locks can help mitigate vehicle thefts and break-ins.
- If possible, look into automatic car starters as an option to warm your vehicle.
- Never leave your vehicle unattended if the keys are in it.
- Always lock your vehicles doors even if you’re parked in a driveway or garage.
- Never leave valuable items like wallets, keys, purses, or even change visible in an unoccupied vehicle.
- Most modern engines do not require a ‘warm-up’ period. If your vehicle does need to warm up, do not leave it unattended.