National Auto Theft Summit | Ottawa intends to make life difficult for criminals

(Ottawa) Tougher prison sentences, ban on the sale of hacking devices, increased collaboration between police and customs officers at the port of Montreal: the Trudeau government unveiled Thursday the first outlines of its plan to fight the epidemic of theft cars in the country.

What there is to know

  • The National Auto Theft Summit brought together more than 700 participants in Ottawa.
  • The Trudeau government is promising tougher prison sentences for violent thefts, among other measures.
  • Approximately 90,000 cars are stolen each year in Canada, resulting in costs of approximately $1 billion for policyholders and Canadian taxpayers.

At the end of the national summit to combat vehicle theft, the Minister of Public Security, Dominic LeBlanc, also committed to quickly implementing other more robust measures which will be detailed in the coming weeks in order to to put an end to the scourge that vehicle theft represents in the country – an increasingly violent and very lucrative crime, which helps finance the activities of criminal groups here and abroad, and which now makes Canada the place of supply par excellence of stolen vehicles around the world, according to Interpol.

Aware of the urgency to act, some of the participants in this summit announced new measures. This is the case of the President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority, Geneviève Deschamps, who indicated that antennas will soon be installed in strategic locations to facilitate the rapid detection of stolen vehicles that are equipped with tracking systems. tracking and which are in a container at the port. “We believe that this is an initiative that will quickly improve interventions to recover vehicles that have illegally entered the Port of Montreal,” she said.

This is also the case for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The head of the federal police force, Michael Duheme, announced that within a week, the Canadian Police Information Center (CPIC), which contains information concerning stolen property and vehicles, will be integrated into the base data from Interpol, which includes 196 countries. In Canada, the CPIC is already consulted 330,000 times per day, underlined the RCMP commissioner.

The Minister of Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, for his part confirmed that Ottawa will prohibit by regulation the import, sale and use of computer hacking devices used by bandits to copy signals without wire the keyless entry system and run away with vehicles without having the original key.


The Minister of Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, the Director General of the Sûreté du Québec, Johanne Beausoleil, and the Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, Thomas Carrique

“We are tightening the screws on criminals,” said Mr. Champagne at the start of the summit, which was attended by some 700 participants, including representatives of automobile manufacturers, insurance companies and law enforcement, as well as mayors and several ministers.

“What we want is to make life as difficult as possible for all these people who are involved in car theft,” he added, also referring to the use of intelligence artificial to fight against this scourge.

Tougher penalties

For his part, the Minister of Justice, Arif Virani, said he was working on amendments to the Criminal Code to impose harsher penalties for violent car thefts – a phenomenon that is growing.

In the greater Toronto area, for example, we see that criminals are engaging in what the police call carjacking, or theft under threat and with violence against the driver. “There has been a 206% increase in these types of crimes,” said Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Thomas Carrique.

The latter also deplored the fact that people arrested in connection with auto thefts get off with sentences that he considers lenient. “In Ontario, we saw 68% of individuals arrested serve a sentence of six months or less. We need to have harsher penalties. We absolutely must have deterrent measures for these crimes,” he said.


Arif Virani, Federal Minister of Justice

Mr. Virani responded that harsher penalties are in the cards for certain offenses.

There is a desire to do more and in a way that addresses the crux of the problem, and that is organized crime.

Arif Virani, Federal Minister of Justice

He explained that the Criminal Code has already been amended to establish minimum penalties for auto theft and harsher penalties if it is linked to organized crime.

Information Sharing

For his part, the Minister of Public Security, Dominic LeBlanc, wants to take the necessary measures to ensure increased sharing of information between the RCMP, the various provincial and municipal police forces, the railway police and the Services Agency border crossings of Canada in order to identify and recover stolen cars.

The Minister of Transport, Pablo Rodriguez, intends to review vehicle safety standards, in concert with the industry, to make theft more difficult thanks to new technologies which would, for example, allow the vehicle to be stopped remotely by the owner or which would make it easier to locate.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante welcomed the Trudeau government’s decision to organize the summit. She noted that young people are recruited to commit these crimes. Last year, 50% of people arrested in the Montreal region in connection with auto theft were young people aged 12 to 24, she noted. “It’s really a major issue. (…) In three years, there has been a 260% increase in the number of stolen cars. It is enormous. This creates stress on our populations. It can happen to anyone to have their car stolen,” she said, after having earlier revealed that she had been the victim of such theft herself.


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