Snow brushed off windshields could mean vehicle targeted for theft: police

Ottawa police are highlighting a new possible sign that vehicles are being targeted for theft.

Police tweeted late Monday morning they’ve received reports that residents have noticed snow was cleared from their vehicles’ windshields overnight, but only on the area that would allow someone to see the vehicle identification number (VIN).

“While their vehicles were not stolen, it is believed these vehicles are being scouted for future vehicle theft,” police said.

Det. Doug Belanger, working on the auto theft file, told CTV News Ottawa he received two reports Monday morning from an area near the Ottawa Hospital General Campus and CHEO, but he said the issue is not unique to that part of the city.

“This has been going on for awhile,” he said, noting that vehicle thefts have been on the rise in recent years, largely affecting high-end Toyota, Honda and Lexus vehicles, among others.

Notably, he said one of the recent reports involved a RAV4, which he said was novel.

“It’s something we’re seeing, the RAV4s rising on the list of high theft-risk vehicles,” he said.

The ongoing issue of vehicle thefts in Ottawa, especially affecting high-end cars, trucks and SUVs, is one patrol officers are aware of, but these reports do prompt notifications to be on alert in affected areas. Belanger said, however, that the widespread nature of this crime means it’s difficult to keep any eye on every part of the city.

“There are only so many people out patrolling each night,” he said.

It’s why he suggested the tweet be issued, Belanger explained. Residents reporting suspicious activity, however insignificant it may seem and even if it’s not in itself a crime, can give police investigative leads. Officers can check for surveillance video in the neighbourhood to attempt to identify potential suspects or suspect vehicles and possibly tie them to other investigations.

“If your vehicle is being targeted, your neighbours’ are likely as well, so even just telling your neighbours can help,” Belanger explained.

Vehicles, once stolen, are difficult to recover. Trends show most vehicles that are stolen in this region are bound for the port of Montreal, to be shipped overseas. Belanger says roughly 30 per cent of vehicles are ever recovered after they disappear.

“This is a problem that is not going away,” he said.

Police are recommending vehicle owners consider buying after-market theft-prevention devices and to report suspicious activity.

View original article here Source