Canada is grappling with a worsening auto theft crisis that is causing alarm among its citizens, according to a recent report by Équité Association.
A survey from the anti-insurance crime organization found that 84% of Canadians are concerned about the growing prevalence of auto thefts across the country, linking it to a rise in crime within their communities.
Additionally, 69% admitted to being worried about their safety and the safety of their families in light of rising auto theft cases.
Terri O’Brien, president and CEO of Équité Association, said these figures indicate how the auto theft crisis makes Canadians feel vulnerable.
“The majority of Canadians are clearly worried about how this alarming increase in auto theft will impact the crime rate in their communities, and they are especially concerned for their personal safety and the safety of their families,” she said.
In its First Half of 2023 Auto Theft Trend Report, Équité Association also found that the provinces experiencing the highest rates of auto theft continue to be Ontario and Quebec.
Auto theft in Ontario has seen a 31% year-over-year increase in the first half of 2023, while Quebec posted a 17% year-over-year increase in the same period.
According to the report, the national vehicle recovery rate currently stands at 57%, with Ontario (46%) and Quebec (38%) having the lowest provincial recovery rates.
VIN numbers altered
The report said lower rates in both provinces suggest that stolen vehicles are shipped overseas, primarily through the Port of Montreal, or their vehicle identification numbers (VINs) are being altered for resale within Canada.
Amid Canada’s escalating auto theft crisis, the Équité survey found that 65% of Canadians believe collaboration between the government, auto manufacturers, law enforcement, and the courts is essential to addressing the issue.
VP of investigative services Bryan Gast emphasized the need for this collaborative approach and said Équité is committed to continuing its work with Public Safety and CBSA and its law enforcement partners.
He proposed immediate solutions to address the crisis in the short term, including prioritizing stolen vehicles at the country’s ports and strengthening information-sharing between Public Safety, CBSA, and Équité Association.
“This problem won't be fixed in isolation,” said Gast. “It requires government, law enforcement, auto manufacturers, and the insurance industry to work together to help protect Canadians.”
The survey was conducted among members of the Angus Reid forum in September 2023.
Mika Pangilinan/Insurance Business Canada