More teens stealing cars for organized crime groups, says Mississauga councillor
Published February 2, 2024 at 3:06 pm
Teens in growing numbers are being used by organized car theft gangs to steal luxury vehicles in Mississauga and across the GTA, says a Mississauga councillor who adds the youths’ lives are being “ruined” by the “terrible” and fast-rising crime.
It’s bad enough, Ward 5 Coun. Carolyn Parrish suggested at city council on Wednesday, that the Canadian government isn’t doing enough to stem the tide of the rapidly growing number of car thefts in Mississauga, across Ontario and the country.
“But the other problem, too, is (organized crime groups) are starting to use kids under the age of 18 to do this because the penalties for kids are so small. It ruins their lives because they (now) have a criminal record, and the organized crime guys don’t care about that,” Parrish said during discussion among councillors about what more the city can do, including ramped-up public education, to combat auto thefts.
Police say car crimes have become both more prevalent and violent in Peel and throughout southern Ontario and Canada in recent years.
“And it’s usually poor kids (that steal the cars),” the councillor continued, “and they give them $500 for a car they’re going to sell for $25,000 or $30,000 overseas. It’s really horrible and it’s happened very quickly because it’s so easy. So, we have to really push the government…because it’s really, really important.
“It’s ruining lives of young kids that are getting arrested; people are being killed and attacked in their driveways. This is really a terrible crime and it’s financing organized crime to a very great extent and I think we should be doing a lot more about it and making a lot more noise.”
More than 7,600 vehicles stolen last year in Peel
Thieves in Mississauga and Brampton are stealing cars and trucks by the hundreds each month as auto theft continues to be a growing concern for Peel Regional Police.
A record 7,637 vehicle thefts, 4,334 in Mississauga and 3,303 in Brampton, were investigated by Peel police in 2023 (through Dec. 16).
While car/truck thefts and carjackings are on the rise across the GTA and southern Ontario, the crime is especially trending upwards in Peel, police have said repeatedly the past couple of years.
Among other factors, the close proximity of Mississauga and Brampton to a series of major highways and locations through which stolen vehicles can quickly be shipped out of town — and out of the country — partially explains the rapid rise of the crime in Peel, cops have said.
In continuing efforts to get a handle on the crime problem, the federal government earlier this week delivered $121 million to fight car thefts in Ontario and it’s hosting a national auto theft summit next Thursday.
Locally, Peel police are hosting two major anti-auto theft events in the coming months — their second annual Auto Theft Summit on March 20 followed by the 51st annual Vehicle Crimes Conference that will take place May 6-9 at the Mississauga Convention Centre.
Ward 1 Coun. Stephen Dasko said the time has come to get the conversation about car thefts “up to a really feverish pitch that nobody can deny that this is a significant plague on our society right now…it’s outrageous how bad this has gotten and how brazen some of these thieves are.”
Dasko said a resident told him of a recent incident in which a woman stepped out of her front door when she noticed on her home’s security cameras that a man was targeting a car in her driveway.
“Go back inside. It’s not worth getting hurt over”
“Go back inside. It’s not worth getting hurt over; just call your insurance company,” Dasko said the thief yelled at the woman just before driving off with her car.
“So, whatever we can do to make sure everybody is paying attention; yes, the auto summits are significant, but we need to keep that pressure on all, and all levels (of government) are hearing it.”
Dasko said further educating residents is also crucial.
“That’s really what I think it is, letting everybody know what they should be doing the best they can to safeguard themselves.”
Beyond public education, Ward 7 Coun. Dipika Damerla suggested the federal government should do more, including revisiting the Criminal Code to make auto theft, a property crime, a more serious crime that would see offenders punished more harshly.
“Property crime is a low-level crime with very little consequences. So, that’s where some of the tools are; change the Criminal Code,” she said.
Echoing earlier comments from Parrish, Damerla added shipping containers that carry stolen cars out of the country should be inspected much more closely before leaving Canada.
“It’s so easy to ship stolen goods out of Canada,” she said. “Shut the door (on that) so they can’t ship the stolen cars out of Canada. Then they’ll lose the lucrativeness of stealing the cars.”
Parrish said she was surprised to learn just how big the auto theft problem is in Canada.
“The thing that’s shocking to me is that all the crime they talk about in the United States, their car thefts are a fraction of ours per population,” she told her colleagues. “And it’s because they have scanning equipment at every one of their ports and they don’t have to open all those (shipping) containers; they just scan them…and if you see a pile of cars in there, then you pull it over and you open it and you check it out.
“So, we are incompetent as a federal government on this. We are also incompetent that we have not asked the (auto) manufacturers to update all the technologies. A five-year-old kid could probably break into a car now…this is really an embarrassment.”
Wednesday’s discussion was prompted by a notice of motion from Ward 2 Coun. Alvin Tedjo that seeks to ramp up public education efforts in the fight against car thefts.insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising