MLA for Fraser-Nicola concerned about backcountry vehicle break-ins 

Jackie Tegart asks to meet to B.C.'s solicitor general on issue

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOEL BARDE - Exercise caution Authorities are warning the public not to leave any valuables in their vehicles when heading into the great outdoors.
  • photo by Joel Barde
  • Exercise caution Authorities are warning the public not to leave any valuables in their vehicles when heading into the great outdoors.

Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart has written to B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth asking for his office to investigate ways to address the problem of vehicle break-ins at parks and trailheads.

"I felt that it was pertinent to send a letter to the minister and make sure that he's aware that this is an issue in many of our recreational areas," said Tegart.

"My riding is very rural, and we're known for incredible trails and experiences in the outdoors."

She is hoping to secure a meeting with Farnworth in order to discuss enforcement options.

"I think when we look at beautiful British Columbia, the message we want out there is not that you have to be concerned about your vehicle when you go hiking," said Tegart.

"The message we want out there is that when there are concerns, we take them forward and try to solve them. We want to make sure everyone feels comfortable parking wherever they want to park and have their vehicle be safe."

While it has long been known that cars and trucks are easy pickings at remote parking lots, little has been done to stop it apart from warning signs and educational outreach by police and others.

In a statement on behalf of Pemberton and Whistler RCMP, Whistler RCMP Staff Sgt. Paul Hayes said that the detachments collectively hears of approximately one vehicle a month that has been damaged or broken into while parked in backcountry-access areas in the region.

Tegart sent the letter to the Solicitor General after being notified of the issue by Lukas Fleming, an outdoor enthusiast who resides in Logan Lake.

A member of the 11,000-strong South Coast Touring Facebook Page, Fleming said that the break-in posts he reads about on the social-media page were, until recently, centralized in the Whistler area, with many in Garibaldi Provincial Park.

That has changed, with the break-ins "creeping further east along the Duffey," he said, adding that he recently saw two vehicles stripped of their tires and axels at a backcountry access point in the Kamloops area.

Fleming said that he would like to see authorities institute either a bait-property or bait-car project (in which property is tagged and tracked by police).

Staff Sgt. Hayes declined to say if Whistler or Pemberton RCMP uses either such program at backcountry access points. He did, however, emphasize the RCMP has embraced them in general.

"The Whistler and Pemberton RCMP are fully committed to the Bait Car/Bike/Property program and have been successful over the course of several years in having the bait technology placed in various items including property that could be stolen from vehicles," said Hayes.

"The RCMP will not disclose when and where bait products have/are being placed for obvious reasons; however, the public should know that bait products can be placed everywhere police feel the technology would provide results in reducing crime."

In his statement, Hayes urged the public to take precautions when leaving vehicles overnight.

"The best way to prevent this type of crime is to not leave any valuables in the vehicles, and do not attempt to obviously conceal anything in the vehicle (e.g., putting a blanket over valuables in the back seat)," he said in the statment.

"If people are planning for backcountry trips they should arrange a safe location to store valuables they are not planning to take with them once they are at their destination."

*Correction: In an earlier version of this story Pique mistakenly reported that Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is located in Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart’s riding. The park is, in fact, in MLA Jordan Sturdy’s West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding. Pique apologizes for the error.

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