WINNIPEG – Manitoba drivers are making it easy for thieves to steal their vehicles.

That’s according to Manitoba Public Insurance, which launched an awareness campaign Wednesday to urge people to keep their keys in secure areas at all times.

The Crown corporation says of the 400 vehicles stolen this past spring, 75 per cent of them involved the use of keys.

MPI says key-related thefts in this spring increased 11 per cent, compared to the spring of 2014.

Minister Gord Mackintosh says immobilizers have helped reduce auto theft rates and that over the past 10 years, auto thefts in Winnipeg have declined 85 per cent.

MPI’s Ward Keith said immobilizers are only effective if thieves don’t have access to a vehicle’s keys.

“For public safety it’s important to eliminate the opportunity for these crimes,” said Keith.

“Stolen vehicles are typically driven dangerously, potentially endangering the lives of innocent motorist, pedestrians and cyclists.”

Winnipeg police Detective Cory McKillop said leaving keys inside or leaving your vehicle running makes it an easy target _ thieves “car hop”, or try to open doors to several cars in the same area.

McKillop said police have learned through interviews with car thieves that about one in every 10 cars checked by thieves has keys inside.

With winter right around the corner, CAA Manitoba said vehicles only need a couple minutes to warm up.

“There is no reason to leave your keys in the ignition,” said Mike Mager, CAA Manitoba president and CEO, in a news release.

“To reduce warm-up time, plug your vehicle in when it’s colder than -18 C.”

When MPI was asked if that means vehicle owners shouldn’t warm up their cars, Keith said they shouldn’t leave the vehicle running unattended.



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