WATCH ABOVE: With no sign of vehicle thefts slowing down, Amber Rockliffe speaks to a Saskatoon family to find out what they went through after their car was stolen.
SASKATOON – It’s no secret Saskatoon has seen its fair share of stolen vehicles over the past year with numerous arrests, multiple public warnings and a fatal crash that took the lives of two teenagers. But what is not often seen are the faces of those it impacts.
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Global News spoke with one family after their only car was taken from them.
Austin Warkentin works hard to provide for his young family. During the early morning hours of Jan. 17, Warkentin’s car was stolen while it was warming up outside his apartment building in the Forest Grove neighbourhood.
He was devastated.
“I was very angry and shocked … this kind of stuff never happens to me … first time,” said Warkentin.
His first thoughts were with his two young daughters and worried their quality of life would suffer.
“I wouldn’t be able to get to work, I wouldn’t be able to go get groceries like I do everyday … these kids always need to go to the doctor,” said Warkentin.
“It puts agony on that family, it puts financial stress, it puts mental stress, because a car is not an item my son can replace at the age of 18,” said Austin’s mother Allison Magee.
Magee says the incident has opened her eyes to the damaging effects of vehicle theft and wonders how many other families are going through what hers is.
“When I hear about car theft on the news, it didn’t affect me at all, because it didn’t happen to me personally – it didn’t happen to anyone that I knew,” said Magee.
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According to the Saskatoon Police Service’s year-end crime statistics, there were 1,042 motor vehicle thefts in 2013. This was an increase by almost six per cent over the previous year.
Police have said in the past that perpetrators are mainly youth and are often repeat offenders.
Warkentin was able to recover his car on Sunday but says he was forced to fight through a mountain of bureaucracy to get it back. Additionally, he had to pay a $160 towing bill and his car had minor damage to it.
By sharing his story, he hopes those who stole the vehicle will see the pain they cause.
Police say the majority of thefts happen when vehicles are left unlocked with the keys inside.
With files from Amber Rockliffe