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OACP and Mac’s Convenience Stores Launch Annual “Lock It or Lose It” Program

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As the holiday season kicks into gear the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), and Mac’s Convenience stores encourage motorists to protect the vehicles and their contents, with the launch of their second annual Lock It or Lose It program, a proactive crime prevention program that encourages drivers to take a few simple precautions to protect their vehicles and vehicle contents from theft just in time for the holidays.

Under the Lock It or Lose It program, police officers throughout Ontario will examine parked vehicles to confirm they are locked and that no valuables have been left in plain view.

“The program involves our officers placing a small notice on every vehicle checked indicating what safety precautions were neglected and offering some simple prevention tips for drivers to protect their vehicles against theft,” said OACP President Chief Robert Herman of the Thunder Bay Police Service.

“The notice also congratulates drivers who have ensured that their vehicle is secure, with valuables out of sight.”

According to IBC Vice-President, Investigative Services, Richard Dubin, auto theft costs Canadians more than $1 billion every year.

“In 2009, 108,172 vehicles were stolen in Canada and, of those, 27,175 were stolen in Ontario. This is a 13 per cent reduction in Ontario compared to the previous year,” said Dubin, adding that approximately half of all stolen vehicles are used to commit another crime or are driven often recklessly for simple purposes of transportation.

“This is known as “destination theft”,” explained Dubin. “In such cases, the thieves are usually amateurs who take advantage of owner negligence by grabbing the first vehicle they can find that’s been left unsecured. In the other cases, vehicles are stolen by professional thieves involved in organized crime rings.”

This November , the Federal Government passed Bill S-9, “Tackling Auto Theft and Property Obtained by Crime Act”, which amended the Criminal Code of Canada to make auto theft a separate crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail upon a third conviction. It is also now an offence to tamper with a vehicle identification number and to traffic in stolen property, which gives Canada Border Services Agency authority to seize stolen vehicles for export.

Vehicles left warming up in driveways on cold mornings or outside of coffee shops, convenience stores, and ATM locations are also vulnerable to being stolen. Criminal organizations target high-end vehicles for export.

Mac’s Convenience stores across Ontario are supporting ‘Lock It or Lose It’ by promoting the program through their 700 stores using their windows and in-store LCD monitors.

“Making crime prevention initiatives part of your social responsibility will undoubtedly improve the safety impact within our communities,” explained manager, Loss Prevention and security manager for Mac’s in Central Canada, Sean Sportun.  “Supporting the ‘Lock It or Lose It’ program demonstrates our continued commitment to the overall safety of the community.”

The ‘Lock it or lose it’ program reminds drivers to; roll up their vehicles’ windows, keep valuables out sight, lock their doors, pocket their keys and never leave a vehicle unattended while it is running.

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