Nanaimo RCMP is reporting a sharp rise in thefts from vehicles for 2018. (News Bulletin file photo)

Stolen raisins cause nightmares as thefts from vehicles rise in Nanaimo

Nanaimo experiencing dramatic rise in thefts from vehicles over 2017, say RCMP

Nanaimo Mounties are warning the public that thefts from vehicles in 2018 have jumped by double-digit percentages above last year’s figures and thieves will steal anything, even raisins.

According to police there were 138 reported thefts from vehicles – 32 per cent more than for the same period for 2017 when there were 95 reported thefts. The spike in reported thefts in May represents a trend for 2018, so far, with 711 thefts from vehicles reported from Jan. 1 to May 11, compared to 504 last year.

The most frequently stolen items are men’s wallets, taken from vehicles that nearly half of the time were left unlocked.

“Door checkers, as they are called, simply meander through neighbourhoods, often late at night trying door handles,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said in a press release. “When they find an unlocked door, in they go and they take whatever they can find.”

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O’Brien went on to say that lately, smartphones left in vehicles are even being passed over when wallets are found because credit cards, driver’s licences, social insurance cards, care cards and other documents contain personal financial and health information that can be easily used to set up lines of credit in the owner’s name, drain bank accounts and even destroy credit status.

“One person recently said the only item taken from their unlocked vehicle was a pack of raisins,” O’Brien said. “They appeared to get off easy, but their daughter had nightmares afterwards wondering if the bad man would come back again.”

Vehicle owners are advised to never leave anything in plain view in vehicles and to ensure they are never left unlocked when unattended and to immediately report suspicious activity.

O’Brien suggests residents take a look around their neighbourhoods before retiring for the night and if they see someone acting suspiciously to take some action, such as simply waving or saying hello, to let that person know they have been seen and deter thefts. If the suspicious behaviour warrants police response, report it to the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345.

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