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Here's how a group of citizens are helping Barrie police curb auto thefts

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After the latest wave of auto thefts in Barrie, police are becoming more reliant on increasing their partnerships with local community groups, including Citizens on Patrol (COP).

The COP program consists of a group of volunteers who provide police with extra sets of eyes to help prevent auto theft, speeding, and other offences within the city.

Police say five vehicles were reported stolen in the past 13 days, so on Thursday, officers and COP members educated the public about prevention at Zehrs on Big Bay Point Road to ensure residents take every precaution to avoid becoming victims.

"Not only can we just talk to individuals that have maybe had their vehicle stolen, but maybe we're going to reach people that we haven't been able to reach before," said Barrie police Const. Keira Brooks.

Brooks said they gave away 275 Faraday pouches to local shoppers and learned how residents are trying to protect their vehicles from theft.

"From chains on brakes to parking on an angle behind a tree, I'm just blown away by the things that people are trying," she added.

On the roads, COP members help target problematic streets for various offences.

"We assist in doing those speed watches, noise watches," said Tony Perrin, a COP volunteer. "We also assist in programs and events within the community that Barrie police are involved with, such as the one here today."

The Citizens on Patrol program has been in action with the Barrie Police Service for almost 30 years.

Volunteers now have their own marked vehicle, and can send officers footage of speeders, and licence plates, so warnings can be issued.

"Once they collect data for us, we can give it to our traffic officers, and we can deploy them effectively," said Brooks. "We determine where the problem is using these Citizens on Patrol, and it's such an effective use of resources."

Citizens on Patrol currently has 19 members, and Barrie police plan to add more in the fall.

Volunteers also assist police with crowd control duties at large events, such as the airshow this weekend.

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