Canada can’t afford to wait for new scanners to stop stolen cars leaving Port of Montreal, says Brampton mayor

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Published April 4, 2024 at 11:05 am

stolen cars mississauga brampton port of montreal

Mayor Patrick Brown says Brampton residents can’t afford to wait years for new and improved security measures to help hold back a tidal wave of stolen cars leaving the Port of Montreal.

“We cannot allow our residents to be terrorized by an auto theft crisis that has become more brazen,” Brown said in a video addressing what he calls a “car theft crisis” gripping the GTA.

The mayor recently visited Montreal, calling the port “the leak in the bucket” when it comes to the rising number of vehicles stolen in Canada, many of which are shipped overseas for resale.

Peel Regional Police have said some 80 per cent of vehicles stolen in Canada bound for international markets, and the OPP said approximately 75 per cent of all stolen vehicles recovered at the port come from Ontario.

And with just 1 per cent of the 1.5 million shipping containers leaving the port being scanned every year, Brown says scanning and inspection efforts need to be stepped up in a big way.

On Wednesday Peel Regional Police and the OPP revealed that nearly 600 stolen vehicles had been recovered from the Port of Montreal in a joint operation with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

The total value of the seizure was more than $34 million – revenue investigators say has now been kept out of the hands of organized crime.

Most of the vehicles came from Toronto, but 125 of the pilfered autos had been reported stolen in Mississauga and Brampton. And while the recovery is a win for the vehicle owners, the haul represents only a fraction of the estimated thousands of stolen autos that are shipped from the port every year.

Last month, the federal government pledged some $28 million to beef up security and add additional scanning technology to check more shipping containers. But Brown says it will take up to three years before the funding is fully rolled out, and every day of delay means more vehicles headed overseas.

“It’s not just stealing cars now at 3 a.m., we’re seeing organized crime knock down doors, violent carjackings – in some respects, the car theft crisis has turned Canada into a third-world country in terms of crime,” the mayor said.

Brown is also calling for greater collaboration between the CBSA and municipal law enforcement agencies to cut down on red tape to make it easier for police to gain access to shipping containers.

Only 390 shipping containers were inspected during the investigation, which was dubbed Project Victor by police, and PRP investigators were only given “temporary and limited access” to the port, Brown said.

“Imagine how many cars they could recover if they were given jurisdiction to inspect shipping containers for stolen vehicles all the time,” Brown told Insauga.com. “To put this into context, we had in the range of 30,000 cars stolen in the GTHA last year alone.”

“It can’t be more of the same old, same old approach because it’s not working in Canada,” Brown said in the video.

The mayor’s pleas come following the second  annual Peel police Auto Theft Summit in Mississauga last month which brought law enforcement, government officials and representatives from the car manufacturing and car insurance industries together to brainstorm solutions to the auto theft crisis.

Participants agreed to push Ottawa for enhanced enforcement at ports of entry and targeted legislation and sanctions to curb organized crime.

More than $1 billion in auto theft insurance claims were made in Ontario last year as the number of auto thefts has hit record highs. Some 5,806 vehicles were reported stolen in both Mississauga and Brampton in 2022, with another 4,482 thefts in Mississauga and 3,178 in Brampton last year for a total of 7,660.

While police are cracking down at ports of entry, Brampton has also taken the fight against auto crime into their own hands with an Auto Theft Reduction Pilot Project which the city says has helped contribute to a 37 per cent decrease in auto thefts in the pilot areas in the first six months of the project.

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