Government of Canada unveils National Action Plan on Combatting Auto Theft

News release

May 20, 2024

Ottawa, Ontario – Today, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs, the Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Transport and Quebec Lieutenant, announced the release of the National Action Plan on Combatting Auto Theft.

The Action Plan is focused on disrupting, dismantling and prosecuting the organized crime groups involved in auto theft. It identifies various measures and initiatives that can be implemented by the federal, provincial and territorial governments and their partners, in keeping with their respective roles, priorities and responsibilities. It builds on the National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft, convened by the Government of Canada in February, and recent enforcement actions that have led to the seizure of hundreds of stolen vehicles.

Auto theft is a complex problem that requires manufacturers, insurance companies, shippers, law enforcement agencies and governments to work together on solutions. Each partner has a to role play. Recognizing the impact of auto theft, the Government is moving forward with immediate actions that fall within federal authority:

  1. Legislative and regulatory changes, including proposed amendments to the Criminal Code, to institute tougher penalties for auto theft with ties to violence, organized crime and money laundering, new offences targeting the possession and distribution of devices that facilitate auto theft, a new aggravating factor applicable at sentencing where there is evidence that an offender involved a person under the age of 18 in the commission of an offence, as well as changes to the Radiocommunication Act to regulate devices used to steal cars, as committed in Budget 2024. 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.
  2. Intelligence/information sharing enhancements between municipal, provincial, federal and international police and customs officials in support of criminal investigations, charges, and prosecutions, building on joint efforts that are already underway. This includes Government of Canada taking a leadership role through the establishment of a National Intergovernmental Working Group on Auto Theft to coordinate actions, monitor progress and explore new initiatives. Maintaining strong relationships to share information will allow the CBSA to continue acting on 100% of referrals from the police while also conducting searches based on its own intelligence.
  3. Intervention improvements that will allow more shipping containers to be examined, through increased capacity at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the integration of new targeting tools. Increasing our capacity to target and search shipping containers will contribute to intercepting stolen vehicles before they leave the country.

The National Action Plan will be continuously reviewed and updated to be responsive to this evolving criminal trend.

The Government of Canada will continue to work with its partners to make it harder to steal cars; make it harder to move stolen cars to a port; target and prosecute the criminals stealing cars; and recover stolen vehicles in ports and rail yards.

Quotes

“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."

- The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

“As was highlighted during the National Summit to Combat Auto Theft in February, auto theft is a complex issue that requires everybody to come to the table with solutions. 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.”

- The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs

“Auto theft not only hits the pocketbook, it makes people feel unsafe. We know that auto thefts are increasing, and in some areas these crimes are becoming more violent. We are committed to ensuring that the penalties for these crimes reflect their severity. This is why we have advanced changes to the Criminal Code that would provide new, stronger tools for enforcement and prosecutors.”

- The Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“Cracking down on auto theft requires all hands on deck from all levels of government, industry leaders and law enforcement. Through this national action plan, we are going to work with partners and use all levers at our disposal to reduce car thefts in our communities.”

- The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“Combatting auto theft requires an all hands on deck approach. That’s exactly what we’re doing with our partners. Budget 2024 and the steps outlined in today’s action plan will help protect Canadians from auto theft.”

- The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Transport and Quebec Lieutenant

“Communities across Ontario, including in Oakville, have been disproportionately impacted by the surge in auto theft. Today, we are taking additional concrete steps to combat it, which include: legislative and regulatory changes, intelligence sharing, examining shipping containers, and more. We will always prioritize the safety and well-being of Canadians.“

- The Honourable Anita Anand, President of the Treasury Board 

“Auto theft is a real concern in the community of Brampton and across Canada. We're starting to see the results of the coordination between authorities and all levels of government, but we know we need to double down on our efforts. Building on the work of the National Summit, our National Action Plan on Combatting Auto Theft takes a comprehensive approach to the issue and implements immediate actions, such as introducing tougher penalties, improving information sharing, and enhancing intervention on the ground. We won't stop until organized crime groups involved in auto theft are held accountable.”

- The Honourable Kamal Khera, Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities

“As Mayor of Brampton, I am acutely aware of the profound negative impact auto theft has on our community. The CBSA’s work to deploy a scanner in the GTA, combined with increased container examinations at the CN intermodal hub in Brampton, marks a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to combat this pervasive issue. By enhancing our ability to detect and prevent the illegal export of stolen vehicles, we are not only protecting the property of our residents but also disrupting the revenue streams of organized crime. This initiative reflects our commitment to multi-jurisdictional collaboration and the safety of our city. I extend my gratitude to our federal partners for recognizing the urgency of this matter and providing the necessary resources to address it."

- His Worship Patrick Brown, Mayor of Brampton

“Extensive collaboration between partners is key to disrupting and tackling auto theft. The RCMP continues to support its partners by sharing intelligence and information to help locate stolen vehicles and expedite investigations so that criminals are held to account.”

- Michael Duheme, Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police 

“Auto theft is a serious, and increasingly violent crime. Combatting this crime and the organized crime groups that benefit from it is a priority for the CBSA.  We are working with local law enforcement to support investigations and prosecutions of organized crime groups. The Agency acts on 100% of referrals received from the police and also conducts searches based on its own intelligence. And we are seeing the results of our work.  So far in 2024, we have intercepted over 1,200 stolen vehicles in railyards and marine ports. But there is more to do.  The CBSA will support the National Action Plan by expanding our collaboration with local law enforcement and increasing our capacity to target and search shipping containers to continue intercepting stolen vehicles before they leave the country.”

- Erin O'Gorman, President of the Canada Border Services Agency

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada has been engaging with industry and other stakeholders on auto theft, including port authorities, rail and shipping companies, as well as the automotive and insurance industries, as part of our collective effort to combat this crime.

  • Investigations into auto theft are led by local police. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Ontario Provincial Police, Sûreté du Québec and the CBSA are working together in integrated task forces to target organized crime, including those groups involved in stolen vehicles.

  • To date, CBSA has intercepted 1,205 stolen vehicles in railyards and ports in 2024.

  • The Criminal Code currently has provisions to address motor vehicle theft at all stages of the crime. This includes offences that precede the actual theft, the actual theft, the possession and trafficking in stolen vehicles, and measures that target the proceeds of the crime. It also includes provisions that address organized crime and offences that address violent acts during a theft or carjacking (such as assault, or the use of a weapon). The amendments to the Criminal Code proposed in Bill C-69, the Budget Implementation Act 2024, No. 1 would provide additional tools for law enforcement and prosecutors to address auto theft.

  • Transnational organized criminal groups are believed to be involved in the export of stolen vehicles from Canada, however, most vehicle thefts involve lower-level threat groups, with violent street gangs being the most prevalent.

  • Most stolen vehicles exported are destined for Africa and the Middle East. Some stolen vehicles also remain in Canada, enabling other crimes to be committed with the vehicles and are destroyed afterwards.

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Contacts

Jean-Sébastien Comeau
Deputy Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc
Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs
343-574-8116
Jean-Sebastien.Comeau@iga-aig.gc.ca

Media Relations
Public Safety Canada
613-991-0657
media@ps-sp.gc.ca

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