We all have a role to play to defeat rampant auto theft

Masked thief trying to get into a car using a crowbar

Susan Penwarden is Managing Director, Personal Lines for Aviva Canada.

Sadly, we’ve reached the point where almost everyone who lives in the Greater Toronto Area knows someone who’s had their car stolen or has had their own car stolen. Some people have even been victimized by auto theft multiple times.

You’ve heard the alarming stats about auto theft: 70 vehicles a day stolen in the GTA on average; more than $1.2 billion worth stolen across Canada in 2022; increasingly violent carjackings; smash-and-grab break-and-enters at homes; and auto theft ring arrests by police that uncover guns, drugs such as fentanyl, and large quantities of cash.

End auto theft in Canada

Aviva Canada has been calling attention to auto theft and advocating for the past two years that it will take a coordinated effort from consumers (awareness), government (regulations and law enforcement), and industry (technology) working together to defeat this explosive auto theft trend and help protect Canadians.

Federal government efforts to combat auto theft

Government attention and action is mission critical to preventing auto theft. There have been significant investments into law enforcement, including the $51 million over three years committed last May by the Government of Ontario that will fund specialized prosecution teams to target organized crime rings and the $121 million announced in February from the federal government to help Ontario police fight gang violence, with a focus on auto thefts and carjackings in the GTA. But more action is needed.

On the federal level, government needs to strengthen Canada’s export policies and empower and invest in the Canada Border Services Agency to stop stolen vehicles from being shipped out of ports to destinations abroad.

Local government efforts to combat auto theft

Local governments need to combat against the increasingly common re-VINing of stolen vehicles which results in a fraudulent Vehicle Identification Number being installed on the stolen car. These cars are then re-sold to unsuspecting consumers. Aviva has seen a 312 per cent increase in 2023 from 2022 in the number of re-VINing cases after car thefts occur.

As a result, Aviva has tried to raise awareness among consumers about how to better protect themselves from auto theft, including through a group of online tips and tricks. You can read more here: https://www.aviva.ca/en/business/news-and-insights/making-vehicle-theft-prevention-your-business/.

But car owners are still under siege. The threat of auto theft is very real.

Public opinion on Canada car theft

In fact, a public opinion survey of Canadians conducted by Aviva in January shows that a whopping 44 per cent of Canadians who planned to purchase a new car in 2024 are reconsidering due to auto thefts.

This survey also reveals that “concern for the safety of myself and my family” is one of the top worries on the minds of Canadians.

The federal government’s National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft in February was an outstanding first step. Aviva Canada was an active participant.

Now we need to keep up the fight against auto theft. We can better protect consumers. We need everyone – government, insurance companies, vehicle manufacturers, law enforcement and consumers – united to make this right for Canadians.

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