Feds announce national plan to fight auto theft

By Dilshad Burman

The federal government announced a countrywide plan on fighting auto theft on Monday.

In a press conference in Brampton, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the National Action Plan on Combatting Auto Theft will focus on disrupting, dismantling, and prosecuting the organized crime groups involved in the thefts that have been rising at an alarming rate.

The plan involves a three-pronged approach:

Legislative and regulatory changes

These changes include proposed amendments to the criminal code to impose tougher penalties for auto thefts that are connected to organized crime, money laundering, and violence.

They will also introduce new offences that target the possession and distribution of any devices that facilitate auto theft and a new aggravating factor at sentencing when there is evidence that an offender involved a person under 18 in the theft.

Changes will also be made to the Radiocommunication Act to regulate devices used to steal cars as per the 2024 federal budget.

In a release, Public Safety Canada said “the Government has launched a consultation to gather information relating to the use of wireless devices in auto theft. In addition, Transport Canada will review and modernize the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations related to theft prevention, to ensure they consider technological advancements to deter and prevent auto theft.”

Information sharing

Enhancements will be made to the sharing of intelligence and information between all levels of government and international police as well as customs officials to support criminal investigations.

To this end, the government will establish a National Intergovernmental Working Group on Auto Theft to coordinate efforts.

“Maintaining strong relationships to share information will allow the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to continue acting on 100 per cent of referrals from the police while also conducting searches based on its own intelligence,” said the release.

Intervention improvements

The government will aim to increase capacity at the CBSA and integrate new targeting tools so that more shipping containers can be examined. This will help intercept stolen vehicles before they leave the country.

“Our communities must be places where people feel safe — where they want to live, work, and raise a family. We are taking action because communities where families are safe, where entrepreneurs want to set up shop, and where people want to invest in their future, are key to unlocking a fairer future for Canadians,” said Freeland.

“The National Action Plan we’re releasing today sends a clear message – our government, as well as our national law enforcement agencies, will use all tools at their disposal to crack down on auto theft,” added Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs

In 2024 alone, the CBSA has intercepted 1,205 stolen vehicles in railyards and ports. The plan will be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure it evolves in step with the thefts and how they are carried out.

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