Thieves are targeting unlocked vehicles in Hawkesbury, stealing contents from inside of cars that are parked in residential areas.

“We have had around a dozen cases in the last month. Most took place on the west side of town, near the École secondaire catholique régionale de Hawkesbury,” said Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) representative Constable Mario Gratton, who works at the detachment in Hawkesbury. He said that most crimes took place during the night.

Among the dozen or so burglaries that took place, Gratton said that none involved damage to vehicles that were forcibly opened.

In response to the robberies, Ontario Provincial Police officers from the Hawkesbury detachment have launched a “Lock it or lose it” campaign, which aims to educate the public about ways to safeguard their property and to avoid becoming victims.

Volunteers from the OPP Auxiliary Unit have been patrolling in areas where most of the crimes took place and have been leaving pamphlets on the windshield of vehicles that are unlocked.  In some cases where unlocked cars were parked in front of houses, Gratton said officers, or OPP auxiliary members would approach homeowners to warn them about the dangers of leaving vehicles unlocked and valuables in plain view.

The education campaign seems to be working. A week after the OPP launched its campaign Gratton said there was not a single incident of break-ins in the affected district.

“We would usually have two or three reported cases. Maybe it works. We hope to start another campaign in the eastern part of town next week,” said Gratton.

Christmas is a particularly bad time of year for car robberies, said Gratton, who noted that the allure of expensive presents sitting in unlocked cars is an added temptation for thieves. Citizens are similarly advised to lock their garages and homes and to take basic precautions to protect their property.