EDMONTON -- The number of auto thefts being recorded in Edmonton is “staggering,” according to the city’s top cop.

Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee made the comments in Thursday’s Police Commission meeting.

“The number of stolen vehicles that we’re seeing in this city is staggering, to say the least,” McFee told the commission.

According to McFee 2,714 vehicles have been reported stolen so far this year, with less than half of those recovered at 1,116.

Stolen vehicle stats 2020

The number of stolen vehicles is actually down from last year’s total, when 3,944 went missing.

Still, McFee says auto thefts are a problem.

“I don’t think you have to do the math,” he said.

“It’s not that hard to figure out that a lot of stolen vehicles are going out the door everyday and have been for years.”

McFee added that a high number of charges laid by police are being dropped in these incidents. An issue he said he plans to take up with the Crown.

Police believe that organized crime has been playing a role and say they’ve been finding firearms in recovered stolen vehicles more and more.

A lot of the stolen vehicles, they say, end up overseas.

McFee isn’t alone in his observations.

“We’re certainly seeing the rise of stolen vehicles happening across the country,” Sid Kingma, from the Insurance Bureau of Canada told CTV News Edmonton.

“Alberta in particular,” he said. “When you compare Alberta to the other provinces and take into consideration our population, the numbers are fairly staggering.”

Kingma says auto theft is an issue that affects any Canadian who owns a vehicle.

“Everyone who owns a vehicle and pays insurance premiums, part of that premium goes to covering off the staggering numbers of vehicles being stolen across the country.” 

According to Kingma, Alberta sees a rough average of 350 vehicles stolen each week.

“Where Ontario is around the 500 mark,” he said. “Which probably has about at least four times the population size.”

That’s why Edmonton Neighbourhood Watch is urging Edmontonians to take preventative measures when it come to their vehicles. 

“It’s really reminding people about locking up their cars and even having a little bit of a cheat-sheet,” Hazel Mbabazi from Edmonton Neighbourhood Watch told CTV News.

“You probably want to make sure just that you double-locked your car before you go to bed,” she said. 

“Try to park in a well lit area if possible,” added Edmonton Neighbourhood Watch President Ann-Marie Thivierge. 

“Make sure that you walk around your vehicle,” said Thivierge. “Check your doors before you actually walk away from it.”