As auto theft surges in Canada, a new report is urging action to counter emboldened thieves.
Vehicle thefts have gone up about 300 per cent since 2015 in Toronto, according to a report released Thursday from the Canadian Financing and Leasing Association (CFLA), and the problem appears to only be getting worse.
“A vehicle is stolen every six minutes,” said Michael Rothe, president and CEO of CFLA, at a news conference Thursday. “We are all waking up to the reality of the devastating impact auto theft is happening on Canadians.”
Rothe said auto theft is a crisis, can lead to $1 billion a year in losses, and is being orchestrated by organized criminal organizations that are using the revenue to fund other criminal activities, such as the trafficking of guns and drugs.
Global News has previously reported that international crime rings are targeting Canada due to the ease of getting away with crime in the country.
In 2022, auto thefts were up by 50 per cent in Quebec year over year, by 48.3 per cent in Ontario, by 34.5 per cent in Atlantic Canada and by 18.3 per cent in Alberta, according to Équité Association, which has been investigating the matter.
Although Rothe said there is no silver bullet to end vehicle thefts, the report highlights some actions that could be taken to tackle the problem.
That includes the re-establishment of provincial auto theft teams. An Ontario Provincial Auto Theft Team was initiated in the early 2000s, but was disbanded partly due to its own success in limiting thefts as resources were reallocated to different areas, according to the report. It is calling for such a team to return to the province and other provinces across Canada.
The report also recommends more public education on auto thefts, including awareness of simple preventative measures the public can take, such as storing vehicle fobs in signal-blocking containers or away from the front door, as thieves can gain access to its signal from the driveway. It also recommends using a wheel lock and locking onboard diagnostic ports, as well as putting a tracking device such as an Apple Airtag in the car.
In addition, the report recommends a permanent federal office dedicated to investigating car thefts, as the problem is linked to the exportation of stolen vehicles out of Canada’s ports, since they are much harder to find once abroad.
“‘We need to hit organized crime where it hurts and cut off a significant source of their funding,” Rothe said.