Toronto, Ontario – Auto thefts cross Canada are spiking under the coordination of international crime rings, according to government officials speaking with Global News.
According to the Canadian Border Services Agency, motor vehicle theft was the second most common reported crime, with 9,439 reported incidents–just behind assault, at 14,531 counts.
In 2022, auto thefts in Toronto rose to 9,439 incidents from 6,518 in 2021, according to police data–a 44.8 percent increase.
Currently, the majority of cars are sourced from Ontario, Quebec then Alberta, according to Bryan Gast, a VP with Equité Association – the investigative wing of the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
“We’re getting to a point now where globally, we’re a source country for stolen vehicles,” he said.
In the organized crime context, local thieves receive shopping lists of vehicles which are then provided to criminal organizations. These vehicles are then smuggled and sold in other parts of the world, including Europe and West Africa.
According to Gast, a vehicle that sells for $100,000 in Canada can fetch up to $250,000 on the international black market, which can circulate back into organized crime and terrorist organizations.
Relay attacks and manually breaking into the onboard diagnostic port are the primary methods of entry and SUVs remain among the most commonly stolen vehicles.
Steering wheel locks, parking in lighted spots, pedal locks and tracking services are all methods of deterrence you can attempt, but Gasts warns that a collaborative approach involving law enforcement, car manufacturers, consumers and the insurance and banking industry is required to ramp up security at large.
The Toronto Police Service advises against leaving running vehicles unattended.
Remember–these are tools that dissuade, not prevent theft. Given enough time, no system is impenetrable.