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RCMP figures show decrease in motor vehicle theft in Cold Lake

After a dramatic spike in the theft of motor vehicles in Cold Lake in 2014, this year's numbers will be a sigh of relief to many. “There's been a significant drop in theft of motor vehicles in Cold Lake from last year,” said Cold Lake RCMP S./Sgt.

After a dramatic spike in the theft of motor vehicles in Cold Lake in 2014, this year's numbers will be a sigh of relief to many.

“There's been a significant drop in theft of motor vehicles in Cold Lake from last year,” said Cold Lake RCMP S./Sgt. Jeremie Landry.

Sixty-three cars in Cold Lake were reported stolen between January and August this year. In 2014, Cold Lake RCMP recorded 112 vehicles missing over the same period. In 2012 and 2013, that number sat between the 60 to 70 vehicles missing.

Property crime in Cold Lake overall has dropped by 2.5 per cent over the last year.

“We're not seeing a spike in that area,” said Landry.

Although it would be difficult to pin down the reason for the decrease on any single factor, dealerships choosing to beef up security and the RCMP clamping down on repeat offenders might be contributing factors.

“We do have significant number of our what we would call our habitual offenders that are incarcerated,” said Landry.

He added, “Which could be attributing to the drop we're seeing in 2015.”

“I believe the RCMP are doing a great job…at catching these guys,” said Cold Lake Chrysler General Manager Miguel Poulin.

A vehicle was stolen from Poulin's Cold Lake dealership, but the incident was caught on video camera, making it easier to retrieve.

Cold Lake's Smyl RV Centre employee Darrell Drouin recalls several units being stolen from the property last year.

“The moment you're gone, somebody cracks the gates and steals a couple of units,” he said. “That hasn't been the case this year at all.”

Others have taken added measures to protect their premises from theft and robbery.

“We used to be really bad but we've taken a lot of precaution,” said Riders Connection General Manager Victor Magas.

After a string of thefts, the Cold Lake motorsports dealership stopped leaving their inventory outside.

“In the past, even if you brought your quad here to be worked on, if I left it outside, it would get stolen,” said Magas. “They'd cut the fence and they'd take it.”

There have also been reports of stolen cars showing up in other municipalities. Joel Dechaine of J.D. Collission in Cold Lake had a truck stolen from his property, which resurfaced at the scene of a robbery in Bonnyville.

“They went and smashed windows at a business to set off the alarm and then they went to a liquor store and, while the police were busy at that other alarm, they robbed the liquor store,” he said.

Dechaine added, “A lot of people doing it are under 18 and they get a slap on the wrist and then they're back and they go do it again.”

Although he thinks the Cold Lake RCMP is doing everything they can to prevent theft, Dechaine believes “there's still more than there should be”.

Like Landry, Dechaine recognizes that the recent economic downturn might be making some people desperate enough to turn to automobile theft.

“I just hope it stops.”