Merritt Community Policing volunteers will be blitzing the downtown area on Wednesday, issuing ‘Crime Prevention Notices’ to vehicles that are at risk of auto crime.

These notices are not formal tickets and have no fines attached, said Community Policing Co-ordinator Kelly Donaldson. However, they serve as gentle reminders about the potential for auto crime, especially when people leave their doors unlocked, or leave items such as loose change, purses, or backpacks visible in the vehicle.

The notices, which will be placed on vehicles, offer residents feedback as well as crime prevention tips.

Donaldson said approximately 10 volunteers will disperse in pairs and focus on high -traffic areas including Quilchena Avenue, the parking lots near City Furniture and Cooper’s Foods, and areas around the banks.

“It’s amazing how many people will leave their purses in their car while they run into the bank,” said Donaldson.

Besides monitoring the lots and checking for valuables, volunteers will look for vehicles that are consistently on ICBC’s Top 10 Stolen Vehicles list, and reminding owners to take precautions such as installing anti-theft devices and using tools like clubs.

Other B.C. cities, including Vernon, Kelowna and Richmond, have conducted similar “Lock Out Auto Crime Blitzes” and Donaldson says the CPO volunteers might incorporate auto checks into their regular foot patrols.

“The Community Policing Office’s mandate is crime prevention, crime reduction, education and awareness,” she said. “Lock Out Auto Crime is one of the many prevention programs that the CPO uses to educate the public.”

The awareness program comes on the heals of an RCMP warning that break-ins are on the rise throughout Merritt.

Last week Const. Ryan Dell told the Merritt Herald that break-and-enter incidents in Merritt are two-and-a-half times higher than the same period last year. This includes items stolen from residences, vehicles and travel trailers.

RCMP are reminding people to lock doors, close windows, and remove valuables, and to report any incidents to the local detachment at 250-378-4262.

Top 10 Vehicles stolen in B.C. in 2011

1. Ford F-Series

2. Honda Civic

3. Honda Accord

4. Chrysler (Dodge/Plymouth) Ram

5. Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/Sierra

6. Chrysler (Dodge/Plymouth) Caravan/Voyaer

7. Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee

8. Toyota Camry/Solara

9. Acura Integra

10. Toyota Corolla

Source: ICBC