Calgary police auto theft team recovers stolen vehicles worth $1.1M

Calgary police auto theft team recovers stolen vehicles worth $1.1M
Auto theft investigation results in 54 arrests and hundreds of charges
Calgary police have recovered dozens of vehicles and arrested 54 offenders following a three month investigation into auto thefts in the city.

The Auto Theft Team recovered 44 stolen vehicles over the last few months and officials say the vehicles are valued at over $1.1 million.

54 offenders were arrested and 53 of them are facing a total of 251 charges related to stolen vehicles, possession of stolen property, weapons offences, drug possession and failing to comply with release conditions.

We see any combination of offenders stealing vehicles for the purpose of using that vehicle as a transaction piece and very often its the keys that are actually the transaction piece, more so than the vehicle itself, said Staff Sergeant Graeme Smiley of the CPS District Support Unit. Their keys, when left in the vehicle, can be trading hands a number of times by numerous criminals and those criminals could be responsible for some of what weve discussed here regarding things like break and enters, drug offences and other property offences.

On Wednesday, police arrested one offender who they say was wanted on 62 warrants for previous offences and that the person is now facing an additional 13 charges.

“We see everything from an organized effort to a crime of opportunity, and that crime of opportunity is what we’re trying to capitalize on today with the messaging around leaving your vehicle running,” Smiley said.

Theres actually numerous other arrests made by our patrol members as well in relation to stolen vehicles, its a daily occurrence for us. What our Auto Theft Team is doing is trying to target the most prolific offenders and try and have the greatest impact on the auto theft issues and we see that but when we arrest people that have more charges, as is evidenced by what were releasing today, theres more opportunity for them to spent time in custody and for us to make a greater impact, Smiley added.

Smiley said stolen cars are often used to commit other crimes, adding there is a “food chain” of criminals using car keys as a “transactional piece.”

Police say offenders are out looking for easy vehicles to steal and that auto thefts increase with the colder weather.

We see everything from an organized effort to a crime of opportunity and that crime of opportunity is one were trying to capitalize on today with the messaging around leaving your vehicle running and the crime of opportunity just occurs to that criminal because they see it running in the driveway or at the local convenience store or what have you, said Smiley.

Smiley said task force officers on Wednesday located and arrested a suspected car thief who was wanted on 62 outstanding criminal warrants for previous offences.

People can report suspicious activity to police by calling 403-266-1234 or 911 for crimes in progress.

Calgary police are gearing up for Operation Cold Start to educate citizens on how quickly vehicles can be stolen when they are left running with the keys inside. (File photo)

The annual campaign urges Calgarians not to leave their cars running in the winter months to avoid becoming an easy target for would-be thieves.

Calgary police have recovered dozens of vehicles and arrested 54 offenders following a three month investigation into auto thefts in the city.

Forty-four cars with a total value of more than $1 million were seized by auto theft team members in the past three months, Smiley said.

The Calgary police auto theft team recovered 44 stolen vehicles worth more than $1.1 million during the past four months, officials said Thursday.

Members of the police auto theft team have nabbed 54 suspects and laid hundreds of charges in the past three months alone.

Officers on the auto theft team charged 53 suspects with 251 criminal offences related to stolen vehicles, possession of stolen property, weapons offences, drug possession and failing to comply with release conditions, police said.

"The offenders that we are arresting in stolen vehicles are more often than not involved in multiple other crimes," said Staff Sgt. Graeme Smiley.

"In Calgary, offenders use stolen vehicles as a means to facilitate other crimes that can cause great risk to the public. Members of our auto theft team, as well as our frontline patrol officers, see this concerning activity on a daily basis."

Police are reminding Calgarians that as temperatures drop, thieves will be out looking for easy targets.

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