By Connor Lynch
Perth County OPP are warning farmers that thieves are targeting farm pickup trucks because they know that the keys are going to be in the ignition.
“We’re seeing that more often than not,” said Perth County OPP Const. Kees Wijnands. He added that it’s “just common knowledge” that farmers often leave their vehicles unlocked with the keys in the ignition. “Sometimes when we arrest people, they even say they know they can come out to a farm and find a key in a vehicle.”
It gets worse. “The majority of stolen vehicles are used in some kind of offence,” said Const. Wijnands. Although many of the thefts are crimes of opportunity, Const. Wijnands said that organized crime is very much aware that stealing vehicles from rural areas “is easy pickings.”
He’s even had a case where leaving the keys in the ignition became a getaway vehicle available for a suspect at a break-in next door. “We got the guy cordoned off, got the (police) dog, the dog tracked him to a neighbouring farm and he got away because the keys were in the truck.”
There were 13 thefts of pickup trucks in Western Ontario in July.
London police issued a public statement in January warning that the number of thefts of older-model pickup trucks was on the rise. Police said that 205 GMC Sierras and Chevrolet Silverados were stolen in 2015 in the London area, up from 76 the year before.
An investigation by Chatham-Kent police in December ended with two teenagers charged after 18 pickup trucks and SUVs stolen from the Wallaceburg area, northwest of Chatham-Kent, ended up in chop shops.