Lock your doors, keep your keys, report your stolen items...that's the message being sent from the Estevan Police Service in the wake of a rash of thefts, some of which include expensive vehicles and items from businesses.
"Whenever we have a theft, whether it's large or smaller, people should report those to their local police. It gives us an idea of crime trends that are occurring within the community. A lot of times, people will have their items stolen out of their vehicles and it may not seem like a lot that was taken. However, if that person has gone through 10 or 12 vehicles in that night and nobody reports, then they strike again the following night or night after that, it doesn't really give the police a heads up on what to be out there looking for," explained Police Chief Paul Ladouceur.
He noted that some of the recent incidents have included some expensive vehicles, as well as equipment from businessess and so forth.
"We encourage businesses to, if they have compounds, make sure they're secured at night. Make sure your businesses are well lit. If you have video surveillance, that's fantastic."
"For people with their vehicles, we can't stress it enough and as many times as possible...do not leave your vehicle unlocked, do not leave your keys in your vehicle. It''s an invitation for thieves. It doesn't make right that your vehicle is stolen, irregardless, but you can certainly hammer down those chances if you lock it properly and don't leave the keys accessible."
"Thieves are looking for an easy theft, they're not looking for something that's difficult," - Police Chief Ladouceur
"Thieves are looking for an easy theft, they're not looking for something that's difficult. If they're shopping around for a vehicle to take, it's much easier to take a vehicle where the doors are unlocked and the keys are at hand, than it is for one that's secured properly," Ladouceur added.
While it's not seen in every case, it's not uncommon for a vehicle warming up to be a prime target. To combat this, the Chief recommends making sure you have an eye on your vehicle, it's locked, and you have a spare set of keys or another way into the vehicle.
"Keep in mind that if your vehicle is idling, your doors are unlocked and keys are in the ignition, and then a child was to ever enter the vehicle, put it in motion and was harmed, there'd be serious liability on the driver, and potentially even criminal charges for criminal negligence. It's every driver's responsibility to make sure that they're vehicle is secured, and not operable, especially by children."
Ladouceur said that there's a number of reasons why theft seems be a recent trend, with one of the main ones being the state of the economy.
"Sometimes these thefts are very transient in nature. We'll have a group come through and they'll do what they call 'business' - I use that term loosely - in Estevan and then move on to another community. They do that to avoid apprehension, so they'll come through and do a number of thefts and then get out. I think we're seeing a case where this is one particular group, more than likely, that has targeted a number of businesses and vehicles."
He concluded by revealing that the matter is under an active investigation, and thus extensive details are unavailable. They are taking the situation seriously, due to the high value nature of the thefts.
Some recent incidents include...
- During the day on Janurary 8th, police were alerted to the theft of a vehicle left running on a parking lot of a downtown business. The vehicle was unable to be located in the city. It was described as a white Ford F350 with a black slip tank, and was taken from a local 7-11.
- That same day, several reports of theft were received from industrial areas of the city. Some items were recovered.
- During the day on Janurary 9th, police were alerted to a theft of merchandise from a local store.
- During the day on the 10th, a complaint was received regarding a stolen vehicle from the Nicholson Road area. Described as a white 2017 Ford F250, it was taken during the evening hours.