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Federal and Provincial Government to Crack Down on Auto Thefts

Person stealing a car

On Monday, May 20, 2024, the Government of Canada released the National Action Plan on Combatting Auto Theft,[1] which aims to combat the increasing rise of auto thefts in the country, particularly in Ontario and Quebec, where auto thefts rose by about 50% in 2023.

The National Action Plan takes a multi-faceted approach, including investing federal funds into increasing the capacity of the Canada Border Services Agency to search shipping containers for stolen vehicles, as well as investments to support provincial, territorial and municipal police forces to combat auto theft. The National Action Plan also details Bill C-69, legislation which will amend the Criminal Code to provide additional tools for law enforcement and prosecutors alike to address auto theft. These amendments include new offences targeting auto theft and associated criminal laundering punishable by a maximum of 14 years. Currently, the federal mandatory minimum prison sentence for a third auto theft offence is six months.

The National Action Plan comes a week after the Ontario provincial government announced its own legislation to combat auto theft in the province,[2] which would lead to vehicle thieves having their licenses for 10 years after a first offence. The suspension would rise to 15 years after a second offence, and a potential lifetime ban for those convicted three times. The suspensions would apply to Criminal Code convictions where the court found that aggravating factors, such as violence, the pursuit of financial gain, or the use of a weapon, were involved in the commission of the offence. The Ontario government is also investing $18 million over the next three years to assist police services combat and prevent auto theft.

Every fourteen minutes in Ontario, a vehicle is stolen. Toronto has experienced the worst effects of this, seeing a 78% increase in violent carjackings since 2021. The costs of auto theft insurance claims have accordingly skyrocketed to a record-breaking $1.5 billion in 2023, up from an average of $556 million annually between 2018 and 2021. Ultimately, these costs are borne by drivers, whose insurance premiums continue to rise to offset these staggering losses.

Auto theft not only affects your insurance premiums, but also your safety on the roads. According to OPP Deputy Commissioner Marty Kearns, who spoke at a news conference in Hawkesbury, Ontario on March 22, 2024,[3] auto thefts are often associated with other serious offences, such as possession of a loaded firearm, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, and impaired driving. Kearns said that accused as young as 16 years old have been apprehended driving stolen vehicles recklessly in attempts to evade police, and that the OPP has seen “several” serious motor vehicle collisions resulting from auto theft crimes. Between 2021 and 2023, there has been a recorded 206% increase in violent carjackings and home invasions resulting in serious injury or deaths in Ontario, and primarily in the Greater Toronto Area.

At JEWELL RADIMISIS JORGE LLP, we are committed to supporting you through every step of your personal injury claim. If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact our team at JEWELL RADIMISIS JORGE LLP for a free consultation.

[1] Public Safety Canada. (May 20, 2024), National Action Plan on Combatting Auto Theft [Website]. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-safety-canada/news/2024/05/national-action-plan-on-combatting-auto-theft.html

[2] Government of Ontario. (May 14, 2024), Ontario Introducing Stiff Penalties to Combat Auto Theft [Press release]. https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/1004590/ontario-introducing-stiff-penalties-to-combat-auto-theft

[3] Brown, D. (March 22, 2024). 34 arrested in joint OPP-Quebec police operation targeting auto theft in Ontario. CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-project-volcano-arrest-1.7152299

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