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Close to 40 vehicles in Ottawa stolen in one week: OPS

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Ottawa Police say close to 40 vehicles were stolen during the last week of November and are reminding drivers to be vigilant.

In a post to social media, OPS says thieves are scouting vehicles in shopping malls and sporting events at all times of the day and at night.

"When parking your vehicle at shopping malls or sporting events this holiday season, always lock your doors and activate any security features," OPS said.

Vehicle thefts have been a perennial problem for OPS who say their work continues to disrupt thieves.

OPS says over 1,200 thefts of various vehicles have been reported to police this year, in several different neighbourhoods across Ottawa. In November, there were 85 vehicle theft reports filed.

Police in the city have made more than 80 arrests this year and 315 stolen vehicles have been recovered.

Statistics provided by OPS show 262 vehicles have been reported stolen in Barrhaven, 205 have been reported stolen in Orléans and 130 have been reported stolen in Stittsville and Kanata.

More than 350 vehicles were reported stolen in central Ottawa and 199 thefts were reported in Ottawa South.

Incidents of Organized Vehicle Thefts - YTD. (Ottawa Police Service/handout)

There are also reports in Richmond, Manotick, Greely, Osgoode, Kanata and Navan.

Late model luxury SUVs and light trucks are the most common vehicles stolen but is not limited to Lexus and Toyota cars. Newer models of the RAV4, Honda CRV, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford F-Series trucks are at risk.

All models of vehicles that are equipped with push-button start have also been targeted by thieves.

In addition, police have warned that the thieves could be armed. Police have seized tasers, pepper spray and crowbars during arrests related to stolen vehicles.

Police urge residents to call 911 if they spot someone stealing a car.

Vehicle owners are encouraged to consider the following prevention methods:

  • Park inside a garage if available (in Ottawa to date, no vehicles have been stolen from inside a garage)
  • Block your vehicle in tightly in front of a second less sought after vehicle or a barricade
  • If you do not have a garage or second vehicle, one of the most reliable techniques is to install an after-market vehicle immobilizer and alarm
  • Use a steering wheel lock to deter thieves (keep in mind they can cut the steering wheel to remove it). It works best when combined with a secondary anti-theft device that may not be as visible to the thief
  • Install after-market tracking devices, GPS or air tag trackers – many of these have the ability to "fence in your car" notifying the owner’s phone if the vehicle leaves the established perimeter
  • If you use tracking devices, be mindful that the thief may also be able to detect that the vehicle is being tracked. Ensure they are well hidden in a less obvious location
  • If you find a tracking device in your vehicle or receive a message on your phone that you are being tracked, call police, as this is one means that thieves use to find a targeted vehicle. They typically return under the cover of darkness to steal it
  • Install an Engine Control Module (ECM) port-lock
  • Install motion detection lights and exterior surveillance cameras at home as these can act as a deterrent
  • Keep in mind that thieves have returned to steal the replacement vehicle when a vehicle has been stolen, so remain vigilant
  • Neighbourhood watch is still the best defense – report any suspicious activity immediately to police at 613-236-1222. Call 911 to report a crime in progress.

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Ted Raymond

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