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Auto theft summit comes and goes: What's next?

By HUB SmartCoverage Team on February 20th, 2024

The National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft ended in Ottawa recently with a commitment to develop a detailed plan to be released in “winter.”

The Government of Canada convened the meeting Feb. 8 between government officials of all levels, industry leaders – including several insurance organizations — and law enforcement representatives to discuss solutions to the alarming rise of auto theft in Canada.

“At the conclusion of the summit, participants endorsed a statement of intent, committing to work together to combat auto theft, and to finalizing an action plan that will be released this winter,” says a statement issued by Dominic LeBlanc, minister of public safety, democratic institutions, and intergovernmental affairs.

In their "statement of intent," participants recognized that fighting auto theft "is no small task" and committed to maintaining co-operation through a pan-Canadian dialogue.

The statement of intent is signed by 14 insurance organizations, auto maker representatives, provincial governments, and the Mayor of Oakville, Ont.

“As a participant in the National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft, we recognize the need to coordinate and enhance efforts to combat auto theft in Canada, with a particular focus on regions that are being disproportionately impacted,” the statement of intent reads.

“We recognize that combatting auto theft is complex, consisting of many points of possible deterrence and intervention including prevention, detection, enforcement, and recovery.

“We further recognize that combatting auto theft requires a whole-of-society effort, with full cooperation between all governments, municipalities, law enforcement, and private sector partners.

“We hereby commit to take leadership within our roles and responsibilities to support and enhance the ongoing efforts of police, industry and/or governments, in order to further deter auto theft and address related issues.”

The same release cites two recent federal government commitments towards curbing auto theft.

First, the federal government announced $28 million in funding to help Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) conduct more investigations and examinations of stolen vehicles. The money will also be used to promote better sharing of information between Canadian police authorities and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).

The funds would also be used in part to explore “detection technology solutions, and … the use of advanced analytical tools such as artificial intelligence.”

Second, the federal government said it would pursue “all avenues to ban devices used to steal vehicles by copying the wireless signals for remote keyless entry, such as the Flipper Zero, which would allow for the removal of those devices from the Canadian marketplace through collaboration with law enforcement agencies.”

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and Aviva Canada both issued public statements calling the summit a “first step” towards a whole-of-society solution to curb auto theft.

The national summit and the federal government’s $28-million funding announcement this week for the CBSA “sends a clear message that the federal government is listening and committed to reducing auto theft,” IBC said in its statement.

“We are pleased that Minister Dominic LeBlanc committed to a concrete, detailed action plan in a few weeks, and look forward to supporting those next steps.”

Aviva likewise commended the government for more CBSA funding, as well as the intent to ban tech that enables thieves to hack into cars’ keyless entry systems.

The federal government also said it would be using existing tools at its disposal to help curb auto theft, which resulted in $1.2-billion worth of fraudulent insurance claims in 2023, per Équité, an industry organization with a mandate to prevent and reduce insurance fraud.

According to the minister of public safety’s statement, these tools include:

  • Public Safety Canada, CBSA, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) will work with partners across Canada and internationally to increase collaboration and information-sharing.
  • Transport Canada will modernize the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to ensure they consider technological advancements to deter and prevent auto theft.
  • Transport Canada will work with Public Safety Canada to identify “cargo handling vulnerabilities through targeted security assessments of port facilities,” and then update security plans accordingly, Public Safety says.
  • Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) will work with Canadian companies, including the automotive industry, to develop innovative solutions to protect vehicles against theft.

In a speech to open the summit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted the federal government is also “looking at furthering strengthening penalties for anyone who participates in auto theft.”

-Canadian Underwriter


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