A Prince George woman is worried she may be the victim of a new trend in identity theft after her and her husband's car and motorhome were broken into and the insurance documents were stolen.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, said the thieves ignored the toonies and loonies stashed in the car's console, the fishing rod stored in the back of the motorhome and other valuables.
Four neighbours have suffered similar thefts, she added.
The vehicle owner's full name, date of birth, driver's licence number and vehicle identification number are printed on the insurance documents and she's worried the paper could be used to generate fake identity to obtain credit cards in her name.
And that's not all, according to the information she's gathered from various sources.
"They make up the i.d, they come back, take the motorhome and it's across the border with the proper i.d., with the proper papers that match the VIN and that's $10,000 in their pocket easy," she said. "And the guy who sells the information makes $300 to $500 for walking down the street opening the car and grabbing some paperwork."
Adding to her concern, one of the two passports she and her husband had stored in the motorhome in anticipation of a trip to the United States was stolen. However, it was in her maiden name and had been canceled automatically when she applied for a replacement under her new married name.
Her next moves were to notify her bank and Equifax, a credit reporting agency, and her credit card company.
From now on, she said she'll be keeping the insurance papers in her purse or by the door inside her home and they will only be in the car when she's driving the vehicle. She will also refrain from keeping any other forms of identification in her vehicle.
Prince George RCMP Cpl. Craig Douglass was reluctant to endorse the idea of taking the insurance papers out of the car when it's not being driven and warned that anyone caught driving without their insurance papers is subject to a penalty.
He did say it's a good idea to not store other kinds of identification in a vehicle.
"The insurance papers should be left in the vehicle," he said. "It's her personal documentation that should be taken out."
However, ICBC spokesperson Tamara McLean did provide two tips to prevent theft of insurance papers and one of them was to not leave the papers in the vehicle when it's parked or stored.
She also suggested owners keep a photocopy in the glove compartment, with name, address and any other personal information blanked out, and hide the original document in another part of the vehicle.
But the woman is not so sure that second tip will work.
"You think the thieves don't know that?" she said and added the car mats were pulled up and thrown around.
She also noted that her car is an older model and its alarm system was bypassed. She suspects the thieves are targeting older cars, motorhomes, boats and older trucks with campers on them.
And she stressed that those who have been robbed should make sure their insurance papers are still there.
"Here's the kicker. If I hadn't done that, I could have been pulled over randomly and I'd have had no insurance papers," she said.