Canada Now Has a National Action Plan on Combatting Auto Theft

The Canadian government on Monday announced a National Action Plan on Combatting Auto Theft with the goal of "disrupting, dismantling and prosecuting the organized crime groups involved in auto theft."

The plan identifies various measures and initiatives that can be implemented by the federal, provincial and territorial governments and their partners, in keeping with their respective roles, priorities and responsibilities. It builds on the National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft that took place in February, as well as recent enforcement actions that have led to the seizure of hundreds of stolen vehicles.

“Cracking down on auto theft requires all hands on deck from all levels of government, industry leaders and law enforcement," said François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. "Through this national action plan, we are going to work with partners and use all levers at our disposal to reduce car thefts in our communities.”

The Trudeau administration is moving forward with immediate actions that fall within federal authority.

First, there will be legislative and regulatory changes, including proposed amendments to the Criminal Code, to institute tougher penalties for auto theft with ties to violence, organized crime and money laundering, new offences targeting the possession and distribution of devices that facilitate auto theft, a new aggravating factor applicable at sentencing where there is evidence that an offender involved a person under the age of 18 in the commission of an offence, as well as changes to the Radiocommunication Act to regulate devices used to steal cars, as committed in Budget 2024.

“Auto theft not only hits the pocketbook, it makes people feel unsafe," said Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. "We know that auto thefts are increasing, and in some areas these crimes are becoming more violent. We are committed to ensuring that the penalties for these crimes reflect their severity. This is why we have advanced changes to the Criminal Code that would provide new, stronger tools for enforcement and prosecutors.”

Meanwhile, Transport Canada will review and modernize the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations related to theft prevention, to ensure they consider technological advancements to deter and prevent auto theft.

Second, the plan calls for intelligence and information sharing enhancements between municipal, provincial, federal and international police and customs officials in support of criminal investigations, charges, and prosecutions, building on joint efforts that are already underway. This includes the federal government taking a leadership role through the establishment of a National Intergovernmental Working Group on Auto Theft to coordinate actions, monitor progress and explore new initiatives. 

Third, intervention improvements will allow more shipping containers to be examined, through increased capacity at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the integration of new targeting tools. This will contribute to intercepting more stolen vehicles before they leave the country. The CBSA has intercepted 1,205 stolen vehicles in railyards and ports so far in 2024.

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