IBC hosts seminar to help fight growing problem of recreational vehicle theft in New Brunswick

DIEPPE, NB, June 4, 2014 /CNW/ - As the summer season begins to ramp up, so does recreational vehicle theft. This includes watercraft, ATVs, trailers and even snowmobiles. Recreational vehicle theft accounts for a large portion of all vehicles that are stolen in New Brunswick and costs consumers both in the form of personal loss and increased insurance rates.

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and law enforcement in Atlantic Canada have formed a partnership to deal with this growing problem. Today, IBC and the New Brunswick Provincial Auto Theft Network (NB PATNET) host the seminar, Red Flags at the Roadside: Recreational Vehicle Theft Investigations for Patrol Officers, in Dieppe.

"Vehicle theft is often a favorite activity of organized criminals and a lucrative business that knows no borders. Unfortunately, Atlantic Canada is not immune to the problem," says Amanda Dean, Vice-President, Atlantic, IBC. "Today's criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, which is why it is so important for law enforcement officials, insurers, border service agencies and other stakeholders to build strong partnerships and information sharing networks to crack down on vehicle theft. In fact, partnership is exactly what brings us together here today," she adds.

The one-of-a-kind training workshop focuses on helping front line law enforcement officers recognize the types of recreational vehicles most likely to be stolen, learn how these thefts are taking place and identify the red flags to look for during investigations and ways to prevent recreational vehicle theft.

The workshop also covers laws for roadside search and seizure under the Criminal Code and, information about the salvage vehicle industry and Operation Scavenger – this is often an eye-opener for law enforcement officers who may have preconceived ideas about salvage operators in general. A dozen recreational vehicles on site are being used by police and IBC Investigative Services staff to take officers through some of the key identifying factors of stolen vehicles.

According to Guy Ouellette, Investigator with IBC Investigative Services, Atlantic, the recovery rate for recreational vehicles tends to be low. "The biggest problem is finding the vehicles," he explains. "Often people don't report that the vehicles have been stolen because they haven't been registered or insured or had plates put on them. Plus these types of vehicles tend to change hands quickly. Even when law enforcement does recover a stolen vehicle, there is often no way to trace it."

"Law enforcement seminars like Red Flags at the Roadside are extremely valuable," Mr. Ouellette adds. "When we raise the level of awareness of our law enforcement community, we see the number of recovered stolen vehicles rise."

RCMP District # 8 Tracadie-Sheila, New Brunswick operational NCO Sgt. Marc Beaupré, added, "The training and investigative assistance available through PATNET is very important to our front-line officers, which otherwise would not be available. The sharing of information is made a lot easier between agencies and our officers learn quickly of developing trends associated to auto theft. Altogether, this helps us greatly to protect our communities better."

The Red Flags at the Roadside sessions are part of the insurance industry and law enforcement's PATNET (Provincial Auto Theft Network): a growing core of law enforcement officials who have received specialized training in the identification of vehicles that have been stolen or otherwise affected by fraudulent activities. As a co-founder, IBC provides training and workshops to participants and shares information about jurisdictional trends and vehicle theft activity. Since PATNET's inception in 2010, interest in programs such as Red Flags at the Roadside has grown, attracting law enforcement officials from across Canada. In 2013, PATNET expanded its operations to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. There are also plans to expand PATNET into Ontario this fall, and possibly into Alberta at a later date.

"This level of interest shows a strong awareness of the effectiveness of robust investigation and prosecution to combat recreational vehicle theft. Specialized training is a key factor in achieving that goal," says Ms. Dean. "Atlantic Canadians can all be proud that we are part of this pioneering work. This is an Atlantic Canada success story," she adds. 

Tips to prevent recreational vehicle theft include:

  • Park your recreational vehicle in a well-lit area that is highly visible.
  • Take the time to engrave visible and hidden identification numbers on your vehicles. For example, a driver's licence number can be easily tracked by police.
  • Consider removing a battery, spark plug wire or battery terminal wire to disable your vehicle and discourage potential thieves when you are not using the vehicle.
  • Lock your vehicle, even when it is stored inside a building. Use a trailer lock when your trailer is left empty or lock it to the tow vehicle. Anti-theft devices are available for both recreational vehicles and tow vehicles. Some insurers offer incentives for using these devices.
  • Keep information handy that will clearly identify your vehicle from others that are similar.  Take pictures, document unique features of the vehicle. This will save time if the vehicle is stolen and will assist the police in its recovery.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is pleased to celebrate 50 years as a valuable resource for insurance information. Since 1964, IBC has been working with governments across Canada to make our communities safer, championing issues that directly affect Canadians and the property and casualty (P&C) insurance industry. IBC is the national industry association representing Canada's private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent 90% of the P&C insurance market in Canada. The P&C insurance industry employs over 118,600 Canadians, pays more than $7 billion in taxes and levies to the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and has a total premium base of $46 billion.

To view media releases and other information, visit the media section of IBC's website at ibc.ca. Follow IBC on Twitter @InsuranceBureau or like us on Facebook.

SOURCE: Insurance Bureau of Canada

For further information: Steve Kee, Director, Media & Digital Communications, Insurance Bureau of Canada, 416-362-2031 ext. 4387, skee@ibc.ca; Ellen Woodger, Communications Consultant, Insurance Bureau of Canada, 416-483-2358, Ellen.woodger@sympatico.ca

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