Ontario provides $51M to crack down on auto theft in Mississauga, Brampton and GTA


Published May 3, 2023 at 12:15 pm

A vehicle is stolen every 48 minutes in Ontario. HRPS PHOTO

Ontario police are getting a huge financial boost from the province in their battle to combat rising auto thefts.

The Ontario government announced Wednesday (May 3) in Oakville it is providing $51 million in new measures over three years to help police identify and dismantle organized crime networks and put them in jail.

The money will be used to create first-of-its kind auto theft prosecution teams to investigate and prosecute criminal organizations that profit from stealing vehicles.

A car is stolen every 48 minutes in Ontario. Across the province, auto thefts have risen over 72 per cent from 2014 to 2021 and last year alone increased by 14 per cent.

The Greater Toronto Area has specifically been hit hard by thieves and criminal networks.

Carjackings have risen in Peel Region by 45 per cent since 2021, while auto thefts in 2021 to 2022 in Halton Region increased by approximately 49 per cent, with Oakville and Burlington being the hardest hit.

In Toronto, auto thefts increased 81 per cent from 2014 to 2021 and the city experienced a 78 per cent increase in violent carjackings from 2021 to 2022.

“With vehicle thefts and carjackings on the rise, our government is taking bold action against a serious and often violent crime where high-tech criminals operate in tightly organized networks,” said Ontario Solicitor General Michael Kerzner, who was joined by Attorney General Doug Downey  for the announcement.

“These measures are aimed at taking crime organizations apart and bringing these criminals to justice.”

The investment will be delivered over three years and includes:

The creation of an Organized Crime Towing and Auto Theft Team led by the OPP:

  • Drawing upon the experience and success of the province’s towing joint force operation, the Organized Crime Towing and Auto Theft Team will work with police services to identify, disrupt and dismantle organized crime networks participating in vehicle theft.

A new community safety grant that targets auto theft:

  • Starting this year, OPP, municipal and First Nations police services will be eligible to apply for funding for extra tools, supports and resources to fight and prevent auto theft in their communities. Funding can be used for public education and awareness campaigns or technology to assist police with surveillance and identification of stolen vehicles.

Creation of a new Major Auto Theft Prosecution Response Team:

  • This team will provide dedicated legal and prosecutorial support to the OPP to prepare and prosecute complex cases, with corresponding court support staff and resources.

“We need a strong approach across the justice sector to stop the rise in auto thefts across Ontario,” said Downey. “Today’s investments will support the creation of dedicated auto theft prosecution teams and enhanced court resources to investigate and prosecute criminal organizations, and ensure justice is served.

“Our auto theft focus will support our ongoing efforts to ensure communities remain safe and that we hold offenders accountable.”

The province will also be investing $1.4 million over three years in the Greater Toronto Area-Greater Golden Horseshoe Investigative Fund in an effort to help stop the illegal export of stolen vehicles and target violent crime linked to criminal organizations.

As part of the Guns and Gangs Violence Reduction Strategy, the province will continue to target organized crime that fuels gang operations, such as vehicle theft rings, through a further $13.4 million investment this year.

The money will be used to support a guns and gangs joint forces operation led by the OPP to increase intelligence sharing and enforcement across multiple jurisdictions, as well as a provincial guns and gangs support unit to assist with investigations and prosecutions.

Further action against auto theft by the province will be also taken by exploring opportunities to work in partnership with the Canada Border Services Agency, RCMP and shipping container and rail companies.

“While vehicle theft is not new, the frequency of these incidents and the level of involvement of organized criminal networks represents a new and evolving threat,” said OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique.

“The OPP-led Organized Crime Towing and Auto Theft Team addresses this issue from a provincial and inter-provincial level. With the support of our partners, including the Sûreté du Québec and the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal, we will disrupt the threat posed by these organized crime networks.”

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