Canada Plans Harsher Laws, Equipment Bans to Fight Car Theft

Canada’s government is banning key-programming machines and other equipment used to steal cars, while implementing harsher penalties to combat a rising number of auto thefts across the country.

Minister of Justice Arif Virani unveiled a national plan to combat car thefts at an event on Monday in the Toronto area. “We know that auto thefts are increasing, and in some areas these crimes are becoming more violent,” he said.

The plan includes laws that would raise the maximum time a criminal spends in jail for stealing cars to 14 years from 10. It also targets the leaders of car-theft rings and includes harsher penalties in cases involving violence.

Brampton, a suburban city near Toronto, has seen a sharp spike in violent car jackings. Canadian car thefts were a C$1.2-billion ($880 million) “gift” to organized crime in 2022, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said at the event Monday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government called a national summit on the issue after a 300% rise in stolen vehicles in the Toronto region from 2015 to 2022. Many of the initiatives announced on Monday flow from that summit, including new intelligence sharing, scanning machines and coordination between police and border services.

“So far in 2024, we have intercepted over 1,200 stolen vehicles in railyards and marine ports. But there is more to do,” Canada Border Services Agency President Erin O’Gorman.