The West Kootenay-Boundary area is hardly a hotbed of hot cars, according to a database created by The Vancouver Sun.
Using information supplied by ICBC, the newspaper put together an interactive map that showed the frequency of auto crime in the province, including all auto thefts, thefts from autos, and vandalism reported to the provincial insurer from 2009-12.
As it turns out, stolen car claims in this area are rare: no community recorded double digits in a single year.
The highest total was nine in Castlegar in 2009. In the last three years Rossland had none, but a total of six in 2009. Thefts from vehicle claims are similarly uncommon, with less than a handful in each place per year.
Vandalism, however, is a lot more prevalent: Nelson and its immediate area saw 23 cases last year resulting in insurance claims and 19 the previous year. Trail recorded 29 cases in 2009 and 42 cases in 2010, although many were blamed on a single culprit. A 40-year-old man pled guilty to two charges but was suspected in 84 incidents.
Rossland only had four incidents in the last four years.
Smaller communities, while not immune, see auto crime even less often. Slocan only had two incidents of vandalism over the four years, both recorded in 2010.
The ICBC numbers don’t necessarily match what is reported to police departments. Nelson police, for instance, recorded 13 stolen vehicle complaints in 2012, only a few of which resulted in insurance claims. Hardly any thefts from vehicles were on ICBC’s radar, even though police responded to 47 incidents last year, down from 91 in 2010.
“We don’t have a very significant problem here by and large,” said Nelson police chief Wayne Holland. “But even one auto theft or break in is going to concern the victim.”
Holland brought the Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team’s bait car program to Nelson in 2011 after working with it in the Lower Mainland. The police-owned vehicles have engines that can be disabled remotely and are equipped with GPS systems and on-board video and audio systems.
Since the program began in 2003, over 1,200 arrests have been made and BC has seen a 71 per cent decrease in auto theft, although not all of it can be attributed to bait cars. BC still had the fourth-worst auto theft rate in the country in 2011, after the Prairie provinces, with 289 vehicles stolen per 100,000 people compared to 239 per 100,000 Canada-wide.