Blue Line

Alberta RCMP and partners initiate Operation Cold Start

February 1, 2023  By Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Feb. 1, 2023, Alberta – The Alberta RCMP and their law enforcement partners have launched the province-wide Operation Cold Start initiative for a second year in 2023. While individual RCMP detachments and police agencies have conducted this operation in previous years, last year was the first coordinated province-wide program implementation. Sponsored by the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police, Operation Cold Start aims to educate the public about the high incidence of vehicle thefts in which the vehicle is unlocked and idling. The 2023 campaign will run from January 30 to February 3.

With the cold weather in winter months, many people understandably prefer to let their vehicles warm up before driving. Unfortunately, idling vehicles can be highly tempting for thieves, particularly when left unlocked and unattended.

According to Cst. Treichel of the Swan Hills RCMP detachment, about 50 per cent of stolen vehicles in Alberta are stolen while idling, and in 50 per cent of these cases, the keys were left inside the vehicle. These situations often occur when the owner leaves their car to warm up in the morning or when they leave it running while they run an errand. Thieves will often watch for people who start their vehicles and leave them unattended.

Cst. Treichel cautions that while the rate of vehicle theft in Swan Hills isn’t as high as the average in Alberta, our community isn’t immune to these incidents.


The top recommendation for preventing these thefts is for owners to use a remote starter so the vehicle remains locked, and the keys aren’t left in the ignition. If your vehicle doesn’t have a remote starter, it is recommended to have this feature installed, if possible.

Running vehicles should not be left unattended; leaving the keys inside is inadvisable. A steering wheel lock can be an excellent deterrent to would-be thieves. It is also not recommended to leave garage door openers in vehicles. Do not leave children or pets inside a vehicle as a safety concern.

So, stay warm over the winter, but please keep these tips in mind to reduce your chances of being a victim of vehicle theft.

– Grizzly Gazette

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