Hill Makes Sure Barrhaven’s Voice Heard At Auto Summit

Barrhaven West Councillor and Ottawa Police Chief Eric Stubbs took part in the National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft, which took place Thurs. Feb. 8 in Ottawa.

The event, according to Hill, “is an opportunity to foster collaboration and pave way for action. As a city representative, I want to ensure that Ottawa, including Barrhaven, have their voices heard.”

The stolen vehicle problem that has been a problem across Canada is continuing to grow in Ottawa. In the city, Barrhaven leads all communities and areas in stolen vehicles. While in the last issue of the Barrhaven Independent it was reported that there were an average of five stolen vehicles in Ottawa each day, early figures for the first month of 2024 indicate that five has grown to six.

“Barrhaven is at the forefront of Ottawa’s auto theft epidemic,” said Hill. “Eighteen hundred-plus vehicles were stolen, contributing to $700 million-plus of losses in Ontario.

“We need all three levels of government to work together to improve port security, require technology to improve port security, require technology solutions from industry, and get more police presence in our suburbs.”

The summit featured leaders from all three leaders of government from across the country. Discussions held at the summit focused on finding solutions to the growing challenge of auto theft in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his Liberal Government is “considering” tougher punishments against car thieves.

“Cracking down on auto theft means bringing law enforcement, border services, port authorities, carmakers and insurance companies together,” the Prime Minister said.

He also took a shot at his political rival Conservative leader and former local MP Pierre Poilievre, saying that the car theft problem won’t be solved with a catchy slogan and a two-minute video.

Consensus in the room was that it will take all levels of government and other organizations in all provinces to combat the problem.

“Addressing this growing problem requires cooperation and actions from across all levels of government, law enforcement and industry. Ongoing collaboration is vital to protect the threat to the safety of Canadians resulting from vehicle thefts. Our government will leverage our existing relationships with industry stakeholders to raise awareness and take concrete actions to help stamp out this scourge,” said François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

Auto theft is impacting thousands of Canadian households every year, particularly in our urban centres. It increasingly involves organized crime groups, who are using the proceeds of those thefts to fund other illegal activities. Today’s Summit advanced work to keep Canadians safe and prevent auto theft from happening, to recover vehicles that have been stolen, and to ensure the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice.

Coordinating efforts across the country, the Government of Canada is taking immediate actions to combat auto theft by:

  • Increasing the capacity of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) by investing $28 million to conduct more investigations and examinations of stolen vehicles, as well as enhance collaboration on investigations and intelligence sharing with partners across Canada and internationally. This includes exploring detection technology solutions, and exploring the use of advanced analytical tools, such as artificial intelligence.
  • Pursuing 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.

These actions build on the recent federal investment of $121 million to help prevent gun and gang violence in Ontario, including organized crime and auto theft, through the Initiative to take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence (ITAAGGV).

“We have heard the message from Canadians: all orders of government: Federal, Provincial and Municipal, must work together with police, the auto industry, the insurance sector, and stakeholders to deal with auto thefts. I am grateful to everyone who took part in today’s summit. We did more than talk shop. We came away with a plan to take on the criminals who are compromising the safety of our communities,” said Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

Locally, police say that many of the vehicles that are stolen in the community are driven to Montreal and quickly loaded onto ships and quickly sent on their way to various overseas locations. Canadian vehicles often end up in Haiti, the Middle East and Africa.

“We’re implementing a robust action plan by working with the auto industry, ports, and railways to protect Canadians from auto theft. We will review our vehicle theft protection standards and strengthen port security to fight organized crime,” said Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Transport and Quebec Lieutenant.

Additionally, the Government of Canada is using the tools and authorities it has to further curb auto theft:

  • The federal government will establish a means of better information sharing between local police and railway police, including through the use of advanced data tools, to identify and find stolen cars before they get to ports.
  • Public Safety Canada, the 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. The Department will also work with public safety partners to identify cargo handling vulnerabilities through targeted security assessments of port facilities. Based on the assessments, the Department will work with port facilities on corrective actions and to implement updated security plans.
  • The Department of Justice Canada will examine potential amendments to the Criminal Code to further strengthen the legal framework related to auto theft, including by reviewing existing offences and penalties.
  • 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.

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.

“Auto theft is not only having an economic impact, there’s a real cost to the well-being and safety of Canadians. As we take on a whole of government approach to solve this multifaceted issue, I look forward to our continued collaborative efforts with all partners to combat auto theft and ensure the safety and well-being of everyone,” said Anita Anand, President of the Treasury Board.

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 manufacturer associations and the insurance industry, 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 (OPP), Sûreté du Québec (SQ) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) are working together in integrated task forces to target organized crime, including those groups involved in stolen vehicles.
  • The CBSA responds to 100% of referrals from police of jurisdiction to examine outbound containers at points of export that may contain stolen vehicles and identify criminal activity within the supply chain.
  • Nationally, the CBSA has increased its efforts, intercepting 463 stolen vehicles in 2018 to more than 1,800 interceptions of stolen vehicles in 2023. The CBSA’s actions have resulted in a 290% increase in stolen vehicle seizures over the past five years.
  • Canada has strong laws in place to address auto theft at various stages of the crime. These include offences that address conduct that precedes the theft the theft itself, possession and trafficking (including exporting) of stolen property, and tampering with Vehicle Information Numbers (VINs). Offense-related property and proceeds of crime can also be confiscated under the Criminal Code.
  • The Criminal Code also includes comprehensive laws to target organized crime, including specific offences and enhanced investigative tools and sentencing, as well as strong penalties for violent acts including assault, assault with a weapon, intimidation and the use of a weapon (for example, a firearm) in the commission of an offence.
  • Rates of vehicle theft rose by 50% in Quebec, 48.3% in Ontario, 34.5% in Atlantic Canada and 18.35% in Alberta in 2022, as compared to the previous year.
  • 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.
  • The majority of 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.
  • Police services in the GTA have observed a combined 104% increase in carjackings from 2021 to 2022 according to a recent report from the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada.