As Auto Thefts Spike in Canada, Justin Trudeau Calls National Summit to Coordinate Response

Bianca Echa

As Auto Thefts Spike in Canada, Justin Trudeau Calls National Summit to Coordinate Response

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is holding a summit next month to coordinate a national response to a massive spike in auto thefts across Canada in recent years.

Toronto, Canada’s largest city, has borne the brunt of the crime wave, according to statistics from the Canadian Finance and Leasing Association. The Toronto region saw 9,600 vehicles stolen in 2022, a 300% increase in annual thefts compared to 2015. Carjackings doubled in 2022 compared to 2021, police statistics show.

Overall, the year-over-year rate of vehicle theft spiked in 2022 by 50% in the province of Quebec, 48.3% in Ontario and 34.5% in Atlantic Canada, a government news release said.

“The scale of the issue around auto theft requires coordination between all governments, federal, provincial and municipal police forces, border services officers and auto manufacturers,” said Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc, speaking in Montreal where Trudeau’s cabinet has gathered for winter meetings.

The federal government is also working on the issue with “port authorities, rail and shipping companies, as well as manufacturer associations and the insurance industry,” the release said.

A government official told Bloomberg a team in Trudeau’s office has been working on a federal policy response to the rise in auto thefts, but is still deciding whether criminal law reforms are needed. The official asked not to be named due to ongoing internal discussions.

The government release said “transnational organized criminal groups” are likely involved in the exporting of stolen vehicles, but “most vehicle thefts involve lower-level threat groups, with violent street gangs being the most prevalent.”

The release said the majority of stolen vehicles from Canada are sent to Africa and the Middle East, while some stay in Canada to be used in other crimes.

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