RED DEER -- The Red Deer RCMP is reminding residents not to leave their vehicles idling and unoccupied. Police estimate that approximately 33 per cent of all vehicle thefts occur while a vehicle is idling and unoccupied. That statistic matches with the number of stolen vehicles reported in Red Deer.

“Between the dates of Oct. 1 and Oct. 20, in Red Deer, we have 52 vehicles reported stolen, and 17 of those vehicles were reported to have keys left in an idling vehicle,” said Red Deer RCMP Inspector Holly Glassford.

“Vehicle thefts of this kind are crimes of opportunity and are certainly preventable,” said Glassford.

Glassford said what she is worried about most is what an individual will do after stealing a vehicle.

“Our data shows that stolen vehicles are often used to carry out additional crimes in the community.”

The RCMP have safety tips to prevent vehicle theft and keep yourself safe. They recommend to avoid idling as much as possible, never leave an idling vehicle unoccupied even when locked, use a steering wheel lock, never leave spare keys or garage door openers in or around a vehicle, never leave children or pets in an idling vehicle, and never leave a wallet or purse inside an idling vehicle.

“Especially going into our winter season, many people are starting their vehicles prior to leaving their residence or leaving their workplace, so I think it’s important to learn about the risks and to be educated about auto theft,” said Glassford.

The public is encouraged to report suspicious activity to the Red Deer RCMP by calling the non-emergency complaint line at 403-343-5575.