Vehicle thefts grew nearly 45% in 2022, according to Global News.
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International criminal networks have Canada in their sights, and the city of Toronto is particularly targeted.
The number of car thefts has risen from 6,518 in 2021 to 9,439 for the past year, according to police data. That's up 44.8%, making it the second most prevalent crime in the city behind the crime of assault.
According to information obtained by Global News, a significant number of thefts are organized abroad, which greatly complicates the work of the authorities.
A Toronto city councilor, Mike Colle, has set up a task force to study the problem of vehicle theft. He believes the real problem is the ease with which vehicles can be exported out of Canada.
“It goes far beyond the borders of Toronto,” he said.
Montreal is no exception
Statistics from the Canada Border Services Agency confirm the city councilor's allegations. At the Port of Montreal, the number of stolen vehicles intercepted rose from 222 in 2016 to 1,020 in 2021.
Vice-president of the Equity Association — the investigative arm of the Insurance Bureau of Canada that looks into auto theft — Bryan Gast says the problem is particularly prevalent in Quebec and Alberta .
"We are now reaching a point where, globally, we are one of the most affected countries for stolen vehicles," he added. Other countries are targeting Canadian vehicles to steal and export."
Bryan Gast argues that a vehicle that can typically sell for $100,000 in Canada can fetch up to $250,000 in West Africa. These sums can then be used to finance criminal organizations, according to Interpol.
Some foreign criminals don't even seem to want to cover up their activities. Indeed, a quick search on Jiji, an online marketplace in Nigeria similar to Canada's Kijiji, found an ad for a Ford Focus, which still had its Ontario license plate.
“It is essential that the federal government and that of Ontario take the situation seriously, hammered Mike Colle. But so far they have been disinterested.”