04/02/2015 07:09 EDT | Updated 06/02/2015 05:59 EDT

B.C. drivers urged to 'treat their keys like cash' in Auto Crime Enforcement Month

British Columbians are being encouraged to treat their car keys just like cash as part of April's Auto Crime Enforcement Month across the province.

"Our call to action – 'Treat Your Keys Like Cash' – is a reminder to all vehicle owners to be vigilant about safeguarding their vehicle keys, fobs and personal property," said Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton Thursday in a statement.

The initiative was launched in response to a spike in auto thefts in B.C. in 2014 — after ten years of steady decline.

Bait cars — where unsuspecting thieves trip a wire inside the car that sends a live video link back to the police — continue to be employed around the province as both a deterrent and a means of catching criminals.

But car owners are reminded that they have a responsibility too, and that leaving their keys, smart keys and valet keys in desks, lockers, or even in the console of their vehicle is a gift to a would-be thief.

"This defeats the built in security features and allows thieves to simply drive away," said RCMP Inspector Peter Jadis.

Along with keeping your keys somewhere safe, the RCMP lists these other ways of protecting your vehicle:

- Do not leave your vehicle unattended while it is running

- Do not leave your smart keys, valet or emergency keys in the vehicle while it's unoccupied

-  Keep items out of sight and secure your vehicle when you leave it

- Use an anti-theft device such as a steering wheel lock or an after-market immobilizer, especially on older model vehicles