The final results are in from the “Protect It, Lock It, Keep It” auto crime prevention campaign led by the Surrey RCMP, City of Surrey, ICBC, and Surrey Crime Prevention Society.

Between October 1 and December 2, crime prevention volunteers from the Surrey RCMP and Crime Prevention Society checked more than 44,000 vehicles for valuables left in plain sight and left over 23,000 notices for drivers to let them know what a thief might find attractive in their vehicles.

In some locations, volunteers recorded almost a 30% decrease in the number of items left in vehicles from the previous month. Additionally, volunteers distributed more than 600 free steering wheel locks to residents who drove older model vehicles that were desired targets for car thieves.

“This was a significant education campaign undertaken by our volunteers, officers, and citizens to reduce the number of thefts from and thefts of vehicles in our city,” said Surrey RCMP Officer-in-Charge Chief Superintendent Bill Fordy. “The end goal was to educate our residents so that they understood the importance of keeping their valuables safe and to adjust their behaviours accordingly.”

“The message behind this campaign was purposely timed to coincide with the start of the holiday shopping season,” said Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts. “As the holidays approach, we want to remind residents to remain vigilant and remove all valuables and shopping bags from their vehicles or keep them out of sight when leaving their vehicles unattended.

The “Protect It, Lock It, Keep It” campaign was focused on making people more conscious about securing their vehicles and ensuring they protect, lock, and keep their valuables. Although auto crime has been on a general decline over the past decade, police often see a spike during this time of year.

Throughout the holiday season, Surrey RCMP officers will be checking on areas with high concentrations of vehicles such as shopping complexes, park and rides, and other facilities to ensure public safety and to monitor prolific auto crime offenders. Volunteers will also continue to conduct parking lot audits and run ICBC’s Lock Out Auto Crime Program at various locations throughout the city.

Vehicle crimes are often crimes of opportunity that can be prevented. Protect your vehicle and belongings by using the following tips:

* use an anti-theft device

* park in well-lit areas, near pedestrian traffic

* remove possessions from your vehicle (ie. bags, spare change, electronics, brief cases, etc.)

* remove your valet key; do not keep spare keys in your vehicle

* never leave your keys unattended

* try to keep keys with you at all times in places like the gym

* never leave your vehicle unattended while it warms up

* keep your garage door opener out of sight or take it with you