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Season of the Steal: Auto thefts in Toronto up more than 50 percent compared to start of 2021

Toronto, Ontario — According to newly released data from the Toronto Police Service, auto thefts are up more than 50 percent in the first two months of this year compared to the same period in 2021.

Around this time in 2021, 810 auto thefts had been reported in Toronto; this year, the city has already surpassed 1,240 reported thefts over the same two-month period.

Reports of theft have been steadily rising since 2018, which saw 642 reports from January to March, and investigators feel confident that they have pinned down where the root of the trend lay.

“Vehicle theft is not a victimless crime. We’re talking about organized crime and the funding of terrorism,” said vice-president of investigative services at Équité Association, Bryan Gast.

Other cars are stolen, “re-vinned” and re-sold within Canada, taking advantage of the current high demand for used vehicles.

Gast pointed out that it can often be difficult for a potential vehicle buyer to be able to identify whether a vehicle has been “re-vinned” and recommends customers always examine the used vehicle package.

“If things don’t start to add up and there are red flags, notify law enforcement of your suspicions and don’t ever put yourself in harm’s way,” he said.

The effect this rise in theft has had on industry is already being tracked, as Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) data shows that the cost of claims attributed to auto theft have more than tripled in Toronto from $17 million in 2016 to $57 million in 2020.

Ontario’s director of consumer and industry relations for IBC, Anne Marie Thomas, said that it is unclear at this time as to whether this will lead to a premium increase for drivers.

“Each company relies on its own actuarial work and assessments to determine appropriate premiums, and takes into consideration various factors to determine a driver’s premium,” said Thomas.

“Inflation, labour shortages, increasing levels of technology in vehicles and global supply chain disruptions may contribute to increasing claims costs.”

In a statement to the Toronto Star, Toronto Police Service spokesperson Connie Osborne said Chief James Ramer has committed to the re-creation of the organized crime investigative support team, which “will allow for a service-wide focus on major crime activity, such as auto thefts, where the investigative capacity exceeds the resources of a local division.”

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