North Vancouver RCMP are warning the public not to leave keys or garage door openers in their cars after they were used in two recent “two-step” house burglaries.
"We received two reports in the past week where house keys and a garage door opener stolen from a vehicle were used immediately afterwards to burglarize the vehicle owner's home," said Sgt. Peter DeVries, of the North Vancouver RCMP.
In one case, the thief took a set of keys that were left in plain sight inside a vehicle parked at a local store. The culprit obtained the owner's address from the insurance papers, slashed one of the tires, then used the keys to break into their home and steal thousands of dollars worth of belongings," said DeVries.
In a second, similar case, a garage door opener was taken, and when the owner returned home, they found their garage had been cleared out of thousands of dollars worth of valuable items.
DeVries said that although these sorts of "two-step" burglaries are uncommon, thieves won’t hesitate to take advantage of easy opportunities.
DeVries said the best way to avoid falling victim to a similar theft is to treat your keys like cash. Don’t leave keys unguarded, even at the gym or the office, he said. Park in secure, well-lit areas. Always lock your doors and close the windows, even if you’re only away from your vehicle for a few minutes.
Remove valuables from your vehicle. Shopping bags, tools, spare change, electronics, and briefcases can all tempt a thief, said DeVries. If it can be stolen, put it in the trunk.
Keep your garage door opener out of sight in a glove box or take it with you, and don’t store a spare key in your vehicle, he said.
"It's one thing to have your sunglasses and some spare change stolen, but it's a totally different story when your home is ransacked and you end up losing your most valuable possessions."
These are the top 10 most common items stolen from vehicles, according to the RCMP:
- personal electronics: tablets, laptops, iPods, GPS
- work tools
- credit cards and identification
- stereo equipment
- cash and change
- car parts and accessories
- garage door openers