It's been years since Regina was the per-capita auto theft capital of Canada, but people like Jay Robertson have long memories.

Even 20 years after he was a crime victim, Robertson is still stung by thieves who broke into his house, stole his car keys and then his car.

Back in the mid-90s, news stories regularly featured the "Oldsmobile gang" — a name given to youthful car thieves said to target one particular make of car.

"The extra salt in the wound — they have all my stuff and they put [it] in my car," Robertson said.

The auto theft rate has dropped dramatically since then — across Canada, in fact.

However, a Central Canadian Auto Theft Association conference in Regina on Wednesday was hearing that many motorists are still making it too easy for thieves to steal their vehicles.

Deputy Chief Bob Morin was part of the police unit assigned to deal with Regina's rising auto theft.

It peaked in 2001, when 3,500 vehicles were stolen in Regina.

Morin said improved anti-theft devices have dramatically reduced the number of stolen vehicles across the country.

And yet, many motorists are still making life easier for car thieves.

"People leave keys in their glove box," he said. "What we're finding is people who are breaking into cars, finding the keys and stealing the car."

One presenter told the conference many motorists have become too reliant on anti-theft devices and need more common-sense measures — like not leaving valuables in the vehicle.

Meanwhile, Robertson says he learned his lesson 20 years ago.
"There's no spare keys near the car or the truck — just seems like common sense."