The Ontario government is investing $18 million over three years to help police services combat and prevent auto theft, while protecting communities and keeping people and their property safe. The Preventing Auto Thefts (PAT) grant will provide funding for 21 projects that feature new and enhanced crime-fighting measures focused on prevention, detection, analysis and enforcement.
“This investment will help our police services crack down on the growing problem of auto theft, dismantle organized crime networks and get these criminals off the streets and behind bars where they belong,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Our government is making the necessary investments so that our police officers have the tools they need to keep people and communities safe.”
Funding for police projects includes:
- Acquiring specialized resources, including surveillance equipment, software and GPS tracking devices
- Providing specialized training to police investigators to enhance skillsets specific to auto theft
- Creating new units dedicated to auto theft, including cross-jurisdictional units that will serve more than one police service to break down silos and address organized criminal activity
- Expanding data collection and analysis efforts to capture more metrics on the linkage to organized crime and other criminal activity
- Fostering partnerships with organizations such as the Insurance Bureau of Canada and the Canadian Automobile Association, as well as local car dealerships to share information and resources and to help in the development of effective prevention strategies and public education campaigns.
“Every 14 minutes a vehicle is stolen in Ontario, and this investment will give police services the tools they need to successfully fight auto theft across the province,” said Solicitor General Michael Kerzner. “With increased efforts and tactics used by thieves and criminal networks, our government is staying one step ahead. This grant will enable police services to work with key partners to enhance knowledge and resources, improve investigations and gather evidence to hold criminals accountable.”
The PAT grant is one of several measures underway to fight auto theft. Earlier this year, Ontario announced the Organized Crime Towing and Auto Theft Team to help Police Services identify, disrupt and dismantle organized crime networks. In addition, the government also announced the creation of the Major Auto Theft Prosecution Response Team to help police prepare and prosecute complex cases. Ontario is also exploring opportunities to combat vehicle thefts by partnering with Canada Border Services Agency, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and shipping container and rail companies.
“Auto theft continues to be one of our most pressing issues that gravely impacts our community and its safety,” said Nishan Duraiappah, Chief of Peel Regional Police. “We continue to invest resources in enhancing investigative and enforcement capacity as we combat auto theft and disrupt organized groups that are responsible. We are pleased with the leadership and commitment the province has shown on the issue, and the funding provided through the Preventing Auto Thefts Grant will further support our ongoing efforts in our region.”
The PAT grant is one of the Ontario government’s community safety grant programs, providing funding opportunities for police services to work with local and provincial partners on safety priorities. All municipal, First Nations police services and Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) contract and non-contract locations were eligible to apply under the PAT grant through a competitive grant application process.
- From 2014 to 2021, there was a 72 per cent increase in auto theft across the province, and a 14 per cent increase in the last year alone.
- Car thefts in Ontario have increased by 31 per cent in the first six months of 2023, when compared to the same period in 2022.
- Thieves and criminal networks have specifically targeted the Greater Toronto Area:
- In Toronto, auto thefts increased 81 per cent from 2014 to 2021 and the city experienced a 78 per cent increase in violent carjackings from 2021 to 2022
- 5,077 vehicles were reported stolen in Toronto in the first half of 2023
- In Peel Region, carjackings have risen 45 per cent since 2021
- York Regional Police report an 82 per cent increase in auto theft when comparing the first half of 2023 to 2022.