To anyone intent on trying their luck stealing a snowmobile in the Shuswap, Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Dave Dubnyk warns the odds are stacked against you.
On Wednesday, Dubnyk announced that over the winter, RCMP will plant ‘bait sleds’ in popular sledding areas along the Trans-Canada Highway – from the Shuswap to Golden – with a focus on curbing theft.
Dubnyk said the Sicamous and Revelstoke detachments will be working alongside the RCMP’s Integrated Municipal Auto Crime Team, deploying a fleet of bait vehicles – sleds, trucks, trailers, etc. throughout the region.
“We’re going to totally mix it up,” responded Dubnyk on what will happen where and when. “We’ve got access to a big fleet. It’s interesting, this bait program… There’s trucks, cars, trailers, sleds, motorcycles, boats, Bobcats, it’s a very big program. So we’re going to change it up. We’re going to have different times, different sleds, different combinations.”
Dubnyk explains the bait vehicles are deployed with onboard GPS and video surveillance systems. As soon as one of the vehicles is activated, police are notified and the unit is monitored remotely until a decision is made to intercept.
“The bait program in general has had tremendous success and the conviction rates on it as well have been very good,” said Dubnyk.
As part of the program, Dubnyk says he was able to secure additional resources for an after-hours presence on the road.
“We’re going to be out there and stopping vehicles that are coming through the area, primarily in the wee-hours, pulling sleds or hauling sleds, either on trucks or on trailers,” said Dubnyk. “The message we want to get out to people is if you’re coming to the area and you’re hauling sleds, particularly in the early hours, we’re going to be stopping you and checking you.
“If you’re the rightful owner, we’ll determine that very quickly and send you on your way with well wishes. If things aren’t jiving… then we’re going to be taking a real hard look at the drivers and the vehicles and the sleds that they’re hauling.”
A bait sled was used in Sicamous last year. Word got around the community and no arrests resulted. On the flip side, notes Dubnyk, there were no thefts.
“A big part of our initiative is prevention, and if I went the whole winter and didn’t catch anybody stealing sleds, but we cut the amount of thefts by 30 or 50 per cent or something, I would be completely happy with that,” said Dubnyk, adding snowmobile owners also have to take precautions to deter thieves. This includes parking vehicles in well-lit areas with good visibility, marking sleds with an ID number, investing in anti-theft devices for both sled and tow vehicle and recording identifying information of sleds, trailers, trucks etc.
Dubnyk says he is also working with the Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club on establishing a secure lock-up area for vehicles at the Owl Head trailhead.