Winnipeg police are urging the public to be cautious about their cars after getting dozens of thefts from vehicles in the past week.

Keep your vehicle in a visible location if parked outside, use your car alarm, and do not to leave anything valuable inside your car.

Between July 9 and 15, there have been 70 vehicle break-ins.

Winnipeg Police Constable Jason Michalyshen said if passersby can see possessions on car seats or dashboards — be it in cars in parking lots or driveways — so, too, can opportunistic thieves.

"If anyone thinks that these types of crimes are only happening in the dark alleys or in these secluded areas late at night they're mistaken," said Const. Michalyshen.

Nancy Helgason knows firsthand what can happen when car doors aren’t locked.

Someone rifled through her minivan in 2013, but left empty handed because all that was in it were the kids' car seats.

Dean Kaziw’s vehicle was also picked over by a thief recently.

Two months ago someone stole a GPS unit from Kaziw's work truck. He always locks the doors, even on job sites.

"I try to lock it up as [much] as I can if it's not in sight, if it's in a back lane or something," said Kaziw.

Breakdown of 70 break-ins across the city:

  • District 1 (central) – 16
  • District 2 (west and southwest) – 29
  • District 3 (north) – 9
  • District 4 (east and southeast) — 16

Winnipeg police Patrol Sargent Nicole Mailhiot said it only takes a few seconds for thieves to make off with all the loose items in a car – moments car owners often gift to thieves in the form of unlocked doors or by leaving valuables in clear site.

The most recent list of stolen valuables from Winnipeg vehicles includes laptop computers, cellphones, GPS units, hands-free Bluetooth devices, briefcases, wallets, purses, gym bags, passports, personal identification, credit cards, debit cards, jewelry, money, and a leather jacket.

The only way to retrieve possessions once stolen is if police luck out and catch thieves in the act. For that to happen, Mailhiot said more people need to call 911 when they see something suspicious.

"For us to be in the right place at the right time seeing someone break into a vehicle, it's like looking for a needle in a haystack," said Mailhiot.

Police prevention tips 

  • 1. Keep your car visible 

Avoid having your vehicle concealed by larger vehicles, fences or foliage; thieves like to work in private.

  • 2. Don’t make it easy 

Keep windows and sunroofs closed and doors locked. Many thefts from vehicles are as a result of unlocked vehicles. 

  • 3. Vehicle alarm? 

Don’t forget to activate it.

  • 4. Take your valuables with you!

Many smash-and-grab thieves act on impulse. So keep your stuff out of sight – either with you or in a locked trunk. Don’t count on the glove box; thieves know to look there, and they’re easy to break into.

Thefts in Brandon

Police in Brandon are also asking people to better protect their belongings.

There were multiple reports on Tuesday of vehicles being rummaged through and items stolen, police said, adding that in all cases the vehicles had been left unlocked.