Customs officials struggling to keep up with booming stolen vehicle industry at Port of Montreal

Canada has become a go-to country for organized auto theft, with the Port of Montreal serving as a key hub for exporting stolen vehicles.

Customs officials struggling to keep up with booming stolen vehicle industry at Port of Montreal
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi
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A lack of staff, resources, and space for customs officers coupled with a spike in organized auto theft has created a perfect storm at the Port of Montreal.

As reported by Blacklock's Reporter, the president of the Customs and Immigration Union Mark Weber recently told MPs that customs officers can only seize six stolen vehicles at a time due to a lack of parking near the Port.

He also noted that the Port currently only has one X-ray machine, which it was forced to borrow from Windsor, Ont. after its only scanner was no longer able to operate. Montreal and its port have become known as a hotspot for auto theft and the exportation of stolen vehicles.

Speaking about how space is an issue for officials — in addition to staffing and resources — Weber said, "The facility in which we do the examinations has six parking spots. Once we find six stolen vehicles we sometimes have to wait days for somebody to come and take the vehicles away before we can inspect anymore.”

"With the officers working we are looking at examining a maximum of about four containers a day which could potentially hold eight cars," he added.

Blacklock's reports that the Port handles approximately 580,000 shipping containers per year, making the inspection of four containers per day a drop in the bucket.

Commenting on the significant staffing shortage facing customs officials, Weber said, "When I talk about staffing levels, we are short between 2,000 and 3,000 across the country. We have ports operating with half the number of officers they had only 10 years ago. We don’t see those numbers going up.”

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has criticized the Trudeau Liberals for their soft-on-crime approach contributing to the increase in auto thefts.

Canada's accelerating problem with auto theft is no secret, as even Justin Trudeau's justice ministers have had their government vehicles stolen three times in as many years.

According to the most recent data, Canada has seen a surge in car thefts in recent years, with Ontario seeing close to a 50% increase in 2022. According to the CBC, about 80,000 cars were stolen in Canada last year.

Car insurance rates are set to rise as well in 2024 in part due to the increase in auto thefts, with some experts expecting up to 25% higher premiums for automobile owners.

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