Auto-theft summit tackles spike in stolen vehicles and violent carjackings in Mississauga, Brampton and GTA

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Published January 22, 2024 at 1:02 pm

With police dealing with an increase in violent carjackings and a record number of stolen vehicles in Mississauga, Brampton and many parts of the GTA, political leaders, police, border agents and auto industry executives will be teaming up to try and cut back on auto crime.

Ottawa has announced plans for a summit next month bringing law enforcement and auto industry stakeholders to the table to come up with better ways to slow the growth in auto theft plaguing most major Canadian cities.

The news comes following a record-breaking year for auto thefts in Mississauga and Brampton, with Peel Regional Police saying there were more than 7,600 vehicle thefts reported across both cities — more than 4,300 in Mississauga and over 3,300 in Brampton.

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the national summit on combating auto theft will run for three days in February and see police, politicians and industry stakeholders put their heads together to cut down on “highly lucrative, highly sophisticated trans-national crime.”

“One of the things that concerns all of us is it’s becoming a violent crime where people are assaulted in the process of stealing vehicles,” LeBlanc said.

“So we think it’s an important opportunity for us to work with partners across the country and take action to deal with something that’s increasingly becoming a concern in every part of the country.”

Peel police held a similar auto theft summit in March and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown has repeatedly called on Ottawa to recall the 10 most stolen vehicles in Canada with keyless ignitions and keyless locks “until the technology is fixed.”

Premier Doug Ford announced $18 million over three years to help police services combat and prevent auto theft, with $900,000 going to Peel Regional Police and $895,760 for the Hamilton Police Service.

Stolen vehicles can be used as a revenue tool for organized crime groups, either being traded as currency or used in crimes before being ditched or destroyed. Some end up shipped overseas, with police aware of used car lots in countries like Ghana which appear to be selling stolen vehicles from Ontario.

But police say law enforcement and insurance companies are facing serious challenges when trying to bring the stolen rides back to Canada, despite photo evidence of the vehicles and the licence plates.

Toronto-area police services say there was a 104-per-cent increase in carjackings between 2021 and 2022 while vehicle thefts rose nearly 50 per cent in Ontario. There were 9,600 vehicles stolen in Toronto alone that same year, 300 per cent more than in 2015.

The summit is scheduled for Feb. 8, and will include municipal and provincial police forces, the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency and auto companies. The hope is to identify short and longer-term solutions to the problem.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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