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Car thieves target vehicles being warmed up

The Prince George RCMP is reminding drivers to take extra precautions with their vehicles during this cold weather snap.

With the drop in temperature comes the desire for drivers to warm up their vehicles before starting out. However, those without a remote start are at a disadvantage and feel the need to make the choice between a cold vehicle, or leaving their vehicle running with their keys in the ignition.

“The Prince George RCMP strongly advises against making the choice to leave your vehicle running with the keys in the ignition, as it gives car-thieves the opportunity to steal your car in mere seconds,” said Const. Jennifer Cooper of the Prince George RCMP. “Twice in the past week, residents of Prince George have fallen victim to just such an occurrence.”

Shortly after 11:30 p.m. on January 27, a resident was in a parking lot on the 3000 block of Massey Drive, waiting for her own vehicle to warm up while sitting in a friend’s car. The idling vehicle was within eyesight of the owner, who watched as a man got out of a nearby pickup truck, got into the idling vehicle and drove off. The vehicle was located the next morning crashed into a ditch. Police identified the male driver as 26-year-old Cheven Schlitt, and arrested him for possession of stolen property. The B.C. Prosecution service approved one charge of possession of stolen property and released Schlitt on bail pending a further court date.

The second incident occurred shortly after midnight on February 3, in a parking lot on the 1700 block of Queensway. An employee of a local business left his vehicle idling in a parking lot and within minutes, a woman got into the vehicle and drove away. Thankfully, video surveillance caught the incident and frontline members located the vehicle a short distance away. Police arrested the driver, 34-year-old Nikita Teegee, for theft of a motor vehicle and held her for court in the morning.

Both of these incidents highlight the rapid way car thieves can work. It is a crime of opportunity, which takes no preparation or planning. In each incident, the thieves took the vehicle, with the owner nearby, within minutes of them starting the vehicle. Please, do not make yourself the potential victim of car theft just for the convenience of having a warm vehicle.

These investigations are ongoing.

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