Trudeau Liberals acknowledge 'overwhelming' auto theft crisis, table plan

'In recent years we have seen an overwhelming and frankly unacceptable increase in auto theft across the country and especially right here in Ontario, in the GTA,' said Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Trudeau Liberals acknowledge 'overwhelming' auto theft crisis, table plan
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The Trudeau Liberals have put forward their plan to fight auto theft.

Announced in Brampton, Ontario, their national action plan includes a number of measures previously incorporated in budgetary legislation.

"In recent years we have seen an overwhelming and frankly unacceptable increase in auto theft across the country and especially right here in Ontario, in the GTA," said Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

In February, the federal government convened a national summit on auto theft in Ottawa. The country has seen a steady rise in auto theft, with insurance expenses exceeding $1 billion in 2022, and $1.5 billion last year.

During the summit, federal ministers emphasized increased funding for law enforcement agencies and proposed legislative amendments. These changes aim to impose stricter penalties for auto theft linked to organized crime, involving youth in such activities, and possessing tools that facilitate theft.

"This is about taking the tools away from people who are committing these crimes, making us unsafe," Freeland said.

Auto theft claims costs have increased 254% since 2018, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Between 2018 and 2021, thefts averaged just $556 million annually.

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said that efforts to work with international law enforcement have been made, including Interpol. He noted that in six weeks of sharing data between the RCMP and Interpol, 1,000 queries had matched to stolen cars from Canada.

More than 1,200 stolen vehicles have already been seized so far this year. Last year, over 12,000 vehicles were stolen from Toronto alone, worth an estimated $790 million.

Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw said in March that a car is stolen in Toronto every 40 minutes. "This is not just a law enforcement problem," he said during a board meeting.

"It is time to be bold and collaborative with all levels of government, along with vehicle manufacturers, port authorities and shipping companies," continued the police chief. "We need manufacturers to better protect vehicles from being stolen and co-operate with investigators to track stolen vehicles so we can catch offenders quickly and return vehicles to their owners," he added.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Conservatives expressed concern over the increase in car thefts in Canada and emphasized their proposed solutions to address the issue.

"Canadians see the results of Justin Trudeau's policies after nine years every day when they look out onto their driveways," said spokesperson Sebastian Skamski.

"Common sense Conservatives will stop the crime and put an end to Justin Trudeau's out-of-control auto theft crisis by cracking down on criminals and repealing his catch-and-release laws and equipping our ports with state-of-the-art X-ray equipment to allow for rapid scanning of containers and interception of stolen vehicles."

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