Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc has announced a national summit on combating the surge in auto theft that has been affecting major Canadian cities. The summit, scheduled for February 8, will bring together political leaders, law enforcement officials, border agents, and auto industry executives to devise effective strategies to address the growing issue.
The announcement comes in response to the escalating problem of car thefts across the country, with reports of vehicles disappearing from driveways and street corners reaching record numbers. In 2022, Quebec witnessed a 50 percent increase in vehicle thefts, nearly matching figures in Ontario, and Atlantic Canada experienced a 35 percent rise. Toronto alone reported 9,600 stolen vehicles in the same year, marking a 300 percent increase since 2015.
Notably, car theft is evolving into a violent crime, often involving assaults on drivers in the process of stealing vehicles. The summit aims to facilitate collaboration with partners nationwide to address this escalating concern.
Toronto-area police services reported a staggering 104 percent increase in carjackings between 2021 and 2022. Minister LeBlanc highlighted the issue of organized crime gangs stealing cars for various purposes, including exporting them to the Middle East and Africa or utilizing them within Canada for criminal activities before their destruction.
Despite existing laws and tracking protocols, stolen cars are still making their way overseas, as evidenced by photos of vehicles with Canadian license plates in foreign used-car lots circulating online.
The summit, which will involve municipal and provincial police forces, the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, and auto companies, aims to identify both short-term and long-term solutions to tackle the growing problem of auto theft in the country.