Members from the Okotoks RCMP detachment will be watching for idling vehicles this week.

It’s part of Operation Cold Start, a provincial RCMP initiative aimed at reducing car thefts during the winter months.

According to Alberta RCMP, increased vehicle thefts can drive insurance rates up and impact negatively communities, with stolen vehicles often being used in further crimes.

Local RCMP members will be watching out for opportunities to educate local vehicle owners, as well as being extra vigilant when it comes to vehicle thieves.

Operation Cold Start also supports Okotoks' Idle-Free Bylaw (18-15), which prohibits car owners from leaving their vehicle idling for more than 10 consecutive minutes within a 30-minute period when the temperature is below 0 Celsius.

A media release from Alberta RCMP provides tips on how to prevent these thefts:

-          If you can’t park in a garage or driveway, ensure that you’re parking in a visible well-lit area.

-          Visible anti-theft devices like steering wheel locks can help mitigate vehicle thefts and break-ins.

-          If possible, look into automatic car starters as an option to warm your vehicle.

-          Never leave your vehicle unattended if the keys are in it.

-          Always lock your vehicle's doors even if you’re parked in a driveway or garage.

-          Never leave valuable items like wallets, keys, purses, or even change visible in an unoccupied vehicle.

-          Most modern engines do not require a ‘warm-up’ period. If your vehicle does need to warm-up, do not leave it unattended.

Operation Cold Start is being held from Jan. 8-12.