Brampton mayor calls for more screenings at Canadian ports to reduce high number of vehicle thefts

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Published December 28, 2023 at 1:59 pm

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At a press conference on Thursday, Brampton mayor Patrick Brown says police alone can’t combat the high number of vehicle thefts that continue taking place in Mississauga and Brampton.

Brown called on the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to start performing more screenings on shipping containers at Canadian ports of entry, where stolen cars from Peel and the GTA are often transported from Canada to be sold in other countries.

“My largest concern when it comes to auto thefts is we can continue to add record numbers of police officers, but if you have a bucket that’s leaking water you have to focus on the leak. Right now the leak is the CBSA, it’s the ports,” said Brown.

The mayor says only one per cent of shipping containers in Canada are screened, a number he called “embarrassing.”

“You’re seeing cars that are being stolen in the GTA and five or six hours later, they’re on a shipping container going outside of the country. That can’t be.”

According to the CBSA’s website, the vast majority of marine containers shipments are processed and authorized without delay.

“A small percentage of containers is selected by the CBSA for examination, based on a comprehensive risk assessment and random selection, using state of the art technology to facilitate the examination process at no cost to the importer,” the federal agency says.

Border officers also conduct inspections of all containers that are referred by police for examinations related to stolen vehicles, according to CBSA spokesperson Maria Ladouceur.

The agency works with multiple police forces investigating vehicle theft across Canada.

“In 2022, these joint efforts caught over 1,300 stolen vehicles from being exported. The CBSA has already stopped that number and more this year (1,601 vehicles to date in 2023),” said a statement Ladouceur provided to insauga.com.

It’s reported that 338 of the vehicles intercepted by the CBSA this year were from the GTA:

The approved 2024 budget for Peel Region includes funding to add 135 uniformed officers, 96 civilian professionals, and 10 cadets to Peel Regional Police, a record number of new officers compared to prior years — but Brown maintains that police can only do so much without assistance from the federal government.

According to police data from Jan. 1 to Dec. 16, a combined 7,637 vehicle thefts — including 4,334 in Mississauga and 3,303 in Brampton — were reported in 2023.

As of Dec. 16, only 202 stolen vehicle cases were successfully solved, while 4,683 were still being investigated and 2,752 deemed unsolved.

The substantial rise in carjackings in 2023 has been a topic of concern for local residents. In the past year, police investigated numerous operations and apprehended multiple groups of suspects believed to be stealing and re-vinning luxury vehicles.

In many instances, the stolen vehicles were either part of “chop shops” and stripped for parts or exported to various countries, including those in the Middle East and Africa.

With the high number of vehicle thefts in Peel, an Auto Theft Summit hosted in March invited police, government officials, and representatives from the auto sector to come together and discuss ways to combat auto theft.

Mayor Brown says another Auto Theft Summit will be held at an undisclosed date.

“The federal government needs to be at the table for this,” said Brown, who says Peel’s deputy police chief has already briefed the federal minister on the issue. “They are the missing cog in the wheel in terms of solving this.”

RELATED: A new record was hit for the amount of cars stolen in 2023 in Mississauga and Brampton

With files from Suzanna Dutt

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