A vehicle is stolen every 40 minutes in Toronto and it’s getting worse: police chief

Click to play video: 'Car theft continues in Peel Region after government grant to tackle crime'
Car theft continues in Peel Region after government grant to tackle crime
RELATED: Months after the Ford government handed Peel Regional Police a chunk of money to battle auto theft, the issue shows no sign of stopping. Global News Queen's Park bureau chief Colin D'Mello reports – Mar 8, 2024

Toronto’s auto theft crisis has spiralled to a point where a car is stolen more than once an hour in the city, according to the local police chief.

More than 12,000 vehicles were stolen in Toronto during 2023, Chief Myron Demkiw said in an update on Monday. That number averages to 34 vehicles a day — or one vehicle stolen every 40 minutes.

Those numbers, the chief said, are still rising.

“We have had 68 carjackings so far 2024,” Demkiw said, adding that number is an increase of 106 per cent compared with the same period in 2023.

“We are putting a significant amount of resources to address this citywide, and have seen an escalation of violence, threats and intimidation, where weapons are being used to steal vehicles.”

The number of break and enters related to vehicle thefts — when someone breaks into a house to steal car keys — is also up.

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“There have been 34 incidents so far this year compared to 22 for all of last year,” Demkiw said.

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Toronto police are under pressure over their auto theft response after an officer at an Etobicoke community meeting suggested residents leave their keys by the front door to limit the threat of violent home invasions.

Click to play video: 'Feds working to ‘crack down’ on ‘violent’ carjackings'
Feds working to ‘crack down’ on ‘violent’ carjackings

Const. Marco Ricciardi was heard making the comments and said, “To prevent the possibility of being attacked in your home, leave your fobs at your front door.”

Ricciardi suggested “that people leave the keys to their vehicle in a faraday bag by the front door,” a statement from Toronto police on Thursday said.

“While well meaning, there are also other ways to prevent auto theft motivated home invasions,” it continued.

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The comments drew sharp criticism, particularly from Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

Ford said he couldn’t get his head around the advice and seemed to draw a parallel with leaving treats out on Christmas Eve.

“I just didn’t understand the answer,” the premier said. “We might as well leave cookies and milk at the front door along with a note. ‘Dear Mr. Criminal, the keys are in the mailbox, don’t kick my door in.’”

— with files from Global News’ Ryan Rocca

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