Epidemic of Plasma TV Thefts On West Side

West Side residents who own plasma-screen TVs are being targeted by thieves.

Mike Jagger, president of Provident Security and Event Management, said in the past several months his company has been deluged with calls from people who have had their TVs ripped off and now want to either replace their alarm system or have one installed.

“It’s epidemic,” he said. “And not only are thieves stealing plasma TVs, I can guarantee that in three to four weeks they’ll be back to take your replacement.”

The Vancouver Police Department reported this week that 15 of the high-end TVs were stolen from homes in the Fairview Slopes area, between Arbutus and Oak streets, since October, several of which were repeat thefts.

Jagger said it’s likely thieves spot the TVs through windows and from that point it only takes minutes for them to break in and remove the unit. He said many thieves carry the Allen keys needed to unhook the TVs from their mount on the wall-an Allen key is an L-shaped tool designed to turn screws with hexagonal sockets-so they can unhook the sets in seconds.

“Even if an alarm is going off in most cases they still have plenty of time to get in and out,” he said.

Jagger said his company has a guaranteed five-minute response time, but sometimes that’s all a thief needs. To combat snatch and grabs, Jagger has developed ways to “five-minute proof” the things home owners love most. Most thieves follow a pattern, he said, starting in the master bedroom searching bed-side tables for cash and jewelry. They then move into the living room to grab CDs and then if there’s time hit the office for computer equipment. Knowing that information, residents can make it more difficult for thieves to get in and out in a hurry.

He said residents should choose an alarm system that’s triggered at the point of entry and not by motion detectors in the kitchen or living room. “By the time those alarms go off, they’ve already gained entry,” he said. “Then residents need to know where their alarm is being monitored from. It might not be from this province or even in this country. That increases time.”

As for plasma-screen TVs, which sell for $4,000 and more, Jagger said residents can slow thieves down by running a bicycle lock through the back of the TV and attaching it to the mount.

Because many older West Side homes have windows that slide up and down, residents tightly secure them by wedging a piece of wood against the frame to hold it in place. What they should do, he said, is allow the window to open a couple of inches so when a thief starts to jiggle a window the alarm is triggered. That will often be enough to deter a robber, he said.

“It’s surprising what you can do with $8 worth of wood from Home Depot,” he said. “But anything to slow them down.”

Published February 15, 2004 · The Vancouver Courier · Written by Sandra Thomas

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