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Ontario announces $51 million investment to battle auto theft


A car is stolen every 48 minutes in Ontario.

The problem is especially prominent in Toronto, according to numbers released by the provincial government.

Vehicle thefts in the city increased by 81 per cent from 2014 to 2021 and violent carjackings jumped 78 per cent from 2021 to 2022.

On Wednesday, the government announced new measures to combat auto theft in the province with a $51-million injection to help police identify and dismantle what it described as “organized crime networks.”

“With vehicle thefts and carjackings on the rise, our government is taking bold action against a serious and often violent crime where high-tech criminals operate in tightly organized networks,” Solicitor General Michael Kerzner said in a news release.

The investment will be rolled out over three years and see the creation the Organized Crime Towing and Auto Theft Team led by the Ontario Provincial Police.

The province said the taskforce will draw upon the success of the OPP-led joint forces operation team, which coordinated with municipal police services to crack down on auto theft, that launched in 2021.

A video from the York Regional Police Service shows a man in a jumpsuit stealing a car (YRP).

As well, a new team of prosecutors, dubbed the Major Auto Theft Prosecution Response Team, will be dedicated to support the OPP as criminal cases involving auto theft make their way through the courts.

Safety grants, which OPP, municipal, and First Nations police service can apply for, will also be up for grabs as a result of the funding, the province said, and see recipients receive “extra tools, supports, and resources” to fight auto theft.

“These measures are aimed at taking crime organizations apart and bringing these criminals to justice,” Kerzner added.

On top of the $51 million, the government said it would also be investing $1.4 million over three years into the Greater Toronto Area-Greater Golden Horseshoe Investigative Fund.

Across Ontario, there was a 72 per cent increase in auto theft from 2014 to 2021 and a 14 per cent increase in 2022, according to the province. Top Stories

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