Norfolk not getting message on unlocked vehicles

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer




Crime in recent months has been trending downward in Norfolk County and southwestern Ontario in general.

However, police say that is no excuse for the public to let its guard down.

A perplexing part of the local crime scene remains valuables in vehicles and the public’s unwillingness to lock them or remove these valuables to a safe location.

The result is frequent calls to the Norfolk OPP about valuables that go missing, usually in the overnight hours when most are sleeping and few are watching.

It’s so bad that police have concluded thieves in Norfolk are specializing in this crime. The risk is low and someone somewhere can be counted on to leave their wallet in the glove box with the vehicle unlocked.

“This continues to be a problem,” Insp. Shawn Nash, interim commander of the Norfolk OPP, told Norfolk’s Police Services Board this week. “In most cases, the valuables stolen have been visible.”

Local law enforcement and the Norfolk PSB are at a loss to respond. “Lock it or lose it” signs dot the county while the local force frequently highlights the crime in daily media releases.

Nash said Norfolk residents better start paying attention if they hope to have a happy holiday season.

Thieves who prey on careless motorists are especially active during the Christmas shopping season. They are more than willing to pluck would-be gifts, purses, cellphones and other valuables from unlocked vans and cars while owners are occupied elsewhere.

Dave Murphy of Port Dover, a civilian appointee to the Norfolk PSB, is worried about what lies ahead.

“Obviously, the public doesn’t get it,” he said.

The discussion came during a review of Norfolk OPP activity during the month of October. As Nash mentioned, crime in most categories is down across the board not only in Norfolk but most of southwestern Ontario.

Bright spots in the October review include the effective performance of Norfolk’s Street Crime Unit. The unit patrols Norfolk’s urban centres – often undercover – in pursuit of criminals who are dealing crack cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl and other deadly substances.

The Norfolk OPP have conducted 62 drug investigations this year. Of these, 57 have been cleared.

“The street crime unit continues to make an impact,” Nash said.