Car theft down in Langley, across B.C.

Car theft is way down in Langley and across the Lower Mainland, but police are still planning their annual campaign to catch more thieves.

IMPACT, the Integrated Municipal Auto Crime Team, celebrated 10 years of success by showing off a couple of bait vehicles and announcing its 10 most wanted auto crime related thieves Friday in Langley.

At the Langley Regional Airport, where the Air One helicopter is based, B.C. Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said that auto theft in B.C. is down 78 per cent in the past decade.

That is a remarkable statistice,” Anton said.

Car theft had been at an all-time high in the years before that, with Surrey in particular one of the worst spots in North America for car theft.

IMPACT and the Bait Car program have helped turned that around, Anton said, also thanking the other police agencies that have worked on the issue.

The reduction in thefts has meant a cost savings for the province’s car insurer.

In 2003, ICBC saw $98 million worth of cars stolen, said John Dickinson, ICBC’s director of road safety. In 2013 it was $27 million worth. That’s down from 70 reported thefts every day to 17.

“That’s a dramatic decrease,” Dickinson said. 

Theft from vehicles is also down 68 per cent, he said.

The display showed off how footage is gathered from the cameras hidden in bait cars.

“Releasing that footage is about deterrence,” Anton said.

The footage released from bait cars has been popular with the general public for years, she noted. The footage often shows hapless car thieves being nabbed, sometimes after openly hoping they are not in a bait car.

“We also know thte videos are getting through to ‘future stars,’” Anton said.

The IMPACT team has also been using microdots to identify items they leave in bait cars for possible break and enter criminals. The microdots allow investigators to later determine that a particular item definitely came from a bait car.

Anton also mentioned the expansion of the program, which started with just cars and trucks. It now includes trailers, boats, ATVs, snowmobiles, and heavy equipment.

Langley’s reduction in auto crime is almost identical to the provincial stats.

The reduction from 2003 to 2013 was 74 per cent for vehicle thefts, and 68 per cent for break ins to parked cars.

There were 23 per cent fewer vehicle thefts in 2013 than in 2012, and 18 per cent fewer break ins.

Anton, IMPACT officer in charge Insp. Peter Jadis, and Dickinson unveiled their list of the top 10 most wanted in the province, all men with auto-linked criminal records. This year, none of them were wanted primarily for crimes from Langley.

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