Why it's difficult for police to solve theft from vehicle crimes - InfoNews

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Why it's difficult for police to solve theft from vehicle crimes

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May 22, 2018 - 5:01 PM

KAMLOOPS - Thieves stealing items from unlocked vehicles has been a growing problem in Kamloops in recent years with the number of reported thefts from vehicles on the rise over the past four years.

From 2014 to 2017, the number of thefts from vehicles reported in Kamloops has increased 11 per cent, Kamloops RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jodi Shelkie says.

During the first quarter of 2018, 388 thefts from vehicles were reported, up from 320 in the same time period last year.

Despite some people voicing their frustration and reporting the incidents online instead of to the police, Shelkie says people haven't stopped reporting incidents. She adds that it's important for officers to know which areas multiple thefts are occurring in so they can direct their resources accordingly.

But it's a tough crime to solve. Shelkie says some people say officers aren't doing enough when it comes to trying to find suspects.

"To solve the crime we need evidence. Evidence is either a witness (or surveillance) or forensic evidence," Shelkie says. "As over 80 per cent of theft from vehicles are from vehicles that have been left unlocked, the only forensic evidence would be from fingerprints on the car door handle. There is a very, very low success rate in obtaining fingerprints from a car handle because other people have touched the handle... and because there is most likely dust on the handle."

She adds if the vehicle was locked and a window was broken to gain access, it might be possible to get fingerprints if the break-in object was left behind.

Almost all thefts from vehicles take place during the night, in residential areas so there is rarely a witness, Shelkie says. When someone calls to report a theft from vehicle, officers ask if they have surveillance and if so, police can take further steps to identify the suspect.

Shelkie says more than 80 per cent of these crimes would be prevented if people locked their vehicles and took all valuables out of their vehicles.

"However, if people choose to leave valuable items inside their vehicle and/or leave the vehicle unlocked, we ask that they record the serial numbers of all laptops, cell phones, etc. so if police do find the items, we are able to return them to the owners," Shelkie says.

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