by Sarah de Mille
Police are cautioning parents in the Greater Toronto Area to lock up or conceal their baby strollers, particularly in 11 Division where six strollers have been reported stolen this year.
As the in-store price tags on these posh prams climb to upwards of $1,000, there has been a rising number of them disappearing from unguarded porches and front yards across the GTA.
It’s not difficult to see the attraction these strollers hold for thieves. Aside from their good resale value, most pose little challenge to filch.
“It’s a theft of opportunity,” said Toronto police Const. Wendy Drummond. “These strollers are stolen from front porches and are easily re-sellable when they are not locked down.”
The market is always large for parents looking for affordable, yet high quality strollers, said Drummond.
Police have arrested and charged a couple earlier this year in a case where strollers were stolen from front porches to sell online for profit.
Jacqueline Kappers, a mother of three children under six years of age, had her stroller stolen from the side of her London, Ontario house on September 24.
The Schwinn stroller that doubles as a bike trailer was normally locked up and concealed, Kappers said in an interview, but on that particular day the stroller had been left unguarded as she had been preoccupied with getting her young children into the house.
“I think it’s really cowardly frankly,” Kappers said. “It’s probably the lowest thing you can do to take things used for children. I mean, it’s not like it’s a luxury item for a child. It’s a necessity and I can’t afford to replace it.”
Kappers said that she doesn’t know what she will do when the harsher weather of winter arrives.
“I have a six, a four, and a two year old,” Kappers said. “The four year old has to walk when we go to school and he hates it because he gets so tired.”
Kappers contacted the authorities as soon as she noticed the stroller had gone missing. She was told there was very little that they could do for her.
“It’s really disgusting. I posted an ad on Kijiji to list that it was stolen, too,” Kappers said. “I’ve had a number of people write to say ‘Oh, I’m sorry,’ or ‘I can’t believe someone would do that to you.’ But that doesn’t help me get the stroller back.”
Drummond acknowledges that although it is very difficult to locate the strollers once they have been nicked, there are a number of things owners can do to ensure they do not become a victim of such theft.
Drummond suggests that owners of expensive strollers put some sort of identifier on it so that, in the event the buggy does get stolen and the police are able to locate it, they will be able to distinguish who it belongs to.
In the case of stroller theft, the old adage of “Out of sight, out of mind” is the best policy to follow in preventing your buggy from becoming a good bargain for somebody else, Drummond said.
“Store them indoors or someplace out of sight,” Drummond said. “If they have to be stored outside, secure them with a lock, such as a bicycle lock. If you make them more difficult to steal, potential thieves will likely continue on to look for a more easy target.”