The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) says Canada needs a national task force on stolen vehicles to be convened immediately and law enforcement must be given the controls and resources needed to stop the outflow of stolen vehicles from Canada’s ports.

The sheer number of vehicles stolen is alarming, writes IBC’s climate change and federal issues vice president, Craig Stewart.

“Last year marked the first time in history when Canada’s insurers paid over $1-billion in claims for stolen vehicles. Canada’s private auto insurance provinces, namely Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and the Atlantic Region, experienced $1.2-billion in theft claims costs in 2022, tripling from approximately $400-million in 2018. In Ontario, auto theft claims costs were approximately $700-million in 2022, up from approximately $160-million in 2018, a staggering 329 per cent increase,” he writes. 

The IBC, he continues, has serious concerns about the impact of auto theft on the public. The association calls for a coordinated government response, including modernizing vehicle standards such that auto manufacturers are required to update anti-theft technologies and install those technologies in the vehicles they manufacture. They also say insurers can take proactive steps to educated owners and encourage customers to install aftermarket tracking through incentives.

“Provincial governments must (also) provide more resources for coordinated, inter-agency enforcement. To that end, we are encouraged by the recent Ontario government commitment to create a provincial auto theft team with dedicated prosecutorial support to strengthen provincial capacity to police and deter organized crime’s involvement in auto theft,” Stewart writes. “Law enforcement agencies must do a much better job of sharing intelligence with one another to quickly recover vehicles before they cross provincial borders and even exit the country.” 

The letter concludes saying the federal government must also take a leadership role by increasing surveillance at key ports. “Importantly, all of these approaches need to be coordinated in a surge effort by all stakeholders to reduce auto theft immediately,” Stewart writes. “That’s why the IBC is calling on the federal government to launch a national task force on stolen vehicles.”