Montreal police step up effort to combat car theft

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(Host) Montreal is an appealing place to go for a weekend – or longer.

Just a short drive from Vermont and you’ve got all the attractions of the big city – concert halls, jazz clubs, museums, shops, and fine restaurants, not to mention Montreal’s famous European flavor.

But you can also run up against some of the problems of big city life – such as car theft.

Shelley Pomerance reports:

(Pomerance) Last February police found 10 vehicles in a container in the port of Montreal, all ready to be shipped overseas. Included in the shipment was a brand new truck belonging to a Vermonter who’d been to a convention in Montreal. His truck was stolen from a hotel parking lot.

And he was lucky to get it back.

In 2006, close to 14,000 vehicles were stolen in Montreal. Some of those cars were dismantled and the parts sold individually. In other cases, vehicle identification numbers were changed and the cars were resold. Still others were loaded into containers and shipped overseas.

Montreal car thieves aren’t necessarily on the look-out for cars with Vermont plates, but they are looking for specific models: luxury cars, SUVs, cars with 4-wheel drive.

More so, car thieves go after high-end cars with no tracking devices or anti-theft systems.

Recently Montreal police stepped up their efforts at the airport and got results. Last year, 215 vehicles were stolen at Trudeau Airport.

This past year, only 76 cars were stolen – a 66% reduction in the rate of car theft.

Michel Guillemette is a Commander of Investigations with the Montreal Police Force.

(Guillemette) “For many years we have been working with airport management, airport security. This has helped to reduce the number of stolen cars. Also at the airport, the security has really improved.”

(Pomerance) The police put prevention programs in place, increased the presence of uniformed and plainclothes officers, and surveillance in the airport parking lot.

But Police Commander Guillemette says that car owners have to do their part too, such simple things such as locking car doors and installing a locking bar on your steering column.

For VPR News, I’m Shelley Pomerance in Montreal.

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