June 30, 2023
Terri O'Brien

Why Canada’s auto theft crisis is also a national safety issue

Version française

Équité Association’s 2022 Vehicle Theft Trend Report (June 2023) shows that Canadian vehicles are being increasingly targeted by criminal organizations across Canada and internationally. In 2022, over 40,000 vehicles (excluding British Columbia) were stolen in Canada, accumulating losses for Canadians of over $1.1 billion, at a time when consumer affordability and inflation are critical issues. Organized crime groups engage in vehicle theft because it is an increasingly low-risk way to make profits. The majority of stolen vehicles are either exported or resold domestically in order to finance or carry out other criminal activities, including drug trafficking, arms dealing, people smuggling and international terrorism.

Vehicle theft threatens public safety on a daily basis, as many result in a physical assault of vehicle owners who interrupt thefts in progress, and some criminals are resorting to violence, as evidenced by the significant increase in carjackings. In Toronto alone, vehicle thefts surpassed break-and-enters as the second most prevalent crime, a 44.8% increase year-over-year. Insurance crime has serious consequences for everyone involved including consumers, insurers, law enforcement and the public at large because of its contribution to increased insurance costs and funding organized crime, including gun and drug crimes, which we have seen clear and compelling evidence of through our joint investigations.

Organized crime groups engage in vehicle fraud and theft because it is an increasingly low-risk way to make profits. With the financial pressure Canadians are already experiencing from high inflation and steep interest rate hikes, auto theft is making the public safety and consumer affordability situation worse.

Équité Association has been a long-standing partner of the OPP and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and commend them, along with the Government of Ontario, for the creation of the Ontario Auto Theft unit, and with dedicated prosecution teams. We understand the collective strength that can be wielded when we all pull in the same direction, and we know that in order to move the needle on this national auto theft crisis we need to close the existing gaps. More funding allocated for our partners at the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), and the creation of an Auto Theft Unit in Quebec, would be a tremendous support to this complex problem. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with our partners in the OPP and other law enforcement agencies, as we work together to safeguard Canadians against these rapidly growing crimes.