Nanaimo RCMP are reminding people to lock their vehicle doors and hide valuable items after a spike in theft-from-vehicle complaints over the past 3 months.

According to police, vehicle break-ins are up 57 per cent from this time last year with the trend expected to increase throughout the holiday season.

There were 542 thefts reported between August 25 to November 25, compared to 308 during the same period in 2016, according to Nanaimo RCMP.

Related: Nanaimo woman breaks into two bait cars on the same night

Constable Gary O’Brien said thieves will break windows, punch out door locks and do significant damage to take as little as a dollar.

“We also hear very sad stories of sentimental items being stolen from vehicles. Thieves don’t care and will simply dispose of priceless family heirlooms in the garbage if [they] cannot be redeemed for cash or drugs.”

Preferred items for thieves tend to be small and easy to conceal such as electronics, cell phones, makeup, and wallets.

Thieves target busy parking lots and wait for unsuspecting drivers to park their vehicle. Items commonly stolen are small and easily concealed such as electronics, cell phones, perfume, makeup, sunglasses, clothing and of course wallets.

Tips from the RCMP 

  • Anything left in your vehicle is a target for thieves
  • Lock all doors and windows when you leave your vehicle
  • Try to park in areas where there is lots of foot traffic
  • If your dropping off gifts then continuing with your shopping, place them in the trunk of your vehicle
  • When parking look around to see who may be watching you
  • If you see anything suspicious, do not park and simply move on
  • Report suspicious activity immediately
  • Ensure there is nothing inside your vehicle that can be used to access your home