Police doubling auto theft unit enforcement after record-breaking year in Mississauga, Brampton

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Published July 14, 2023 at 11:09 am

stolen cars mississauga Peel Regional Police conference
(File photo)

Police are doubling their efforts to crack down on vehicle break-ins and thefts after a record-breaking year that saw over 6,000 vehicles stolen in Mississauga and Brampton.

Stats from Peel Regional Police show there were a staggering 6,042 motor vehicle thefts in Mississauga and Brampton last year, eclipsing the previous year’s 4,119 thefts and more than double the 3,062 thefts reported in 2019. There were also another 4,170 reports of thefts from vehicles, up from 3,967 incidents in 2021.

The rash of auto thefts led Peel police and politicians to hold a summit in March with stakeholders from the auto industry, manufacturers and insiders to find ways to prevent thefts.

One of the outcomes will see the Peel police auto crime unit doubling its efforts.

“Our enforcement in this space is going to be more than it ever has been,” said Peel Regional Police Dep. Chief Nick Milinovich at a meeting of the Peel Police Services Board (PPSB) last month, adding that police are still pushing the auto industry to make cars harder to steal and safeguard vehicles from criminals.

Police say “convenience” features like keyless entry have made vehicles much easier to steal, as criminals can use devices to copy a key fob or gain access to a vehicle in so-called “relay thefts.”

“It’s not lost upon us how deeply affected our community is,” said Milinovich. “People are waking up and finding that people from other jurisdictions and other places have gone shopping in their communities for cars to steal, and it’s a horrible feeling.”

The summit came on the heels of a pilot program by the City of Brampton to give thousands of Brampton car owners free Faraday bags – a signal-blocking pouch that can prevent thieves from copying your vehicle’s keyfob.

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.”

Peel police Chief Nishan Duraiappah said the police budget will allow for expanding the auto crime team, but added that “the work isn’t done” and the auto industry and Ottawa have a role to play in prevention while police are working on enforcement.

“We will continue to message the prevention piece, but the one that has come to the forefront is bringing the industries alongside of us,” the chief said. “Policy changes, legislative changes to the Insurance Act, getting the automobile manufacturers to spill into that space is a real powerful one.”

And while the rise in auto crime is far from a Peel-specific problem, Duraiappah said the region’s proximity to other jurisdictions in the GTA factors into the number of thefts.

Police and local politicians have pointed to issues with stolen vehicles being shipped out of Canadian ports bound for foreign countries, like those being sold at a car lot in the African country of Ghana, calling on the federal government to increase funding for Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA).

“As long as (auto theft) exists we’re going to do everything we can as a police organization and as a leader in the community to begin addressing those feelings of insecurity that our residents are having,” Milinovich said.

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