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The head of the RCMP has been in discussions with a major auto manufacturer in Canada to address the increasing issue of vehicle thefts. The unnamed company, along with other manufacturers, are working on ways to better protect their products from theft. The RCMP Commissioner highlighted the complexities of the issue and emphasized the collective effort needed to combat the problem. The rise in auto thefts has led to a record-breaking $1.5 billion in insurance claims for stolen vehicles in 2023, a 254% increase since 2018. The Équité Association estimates that a vehicle is stolen in Canada every five minutes.

The national action plan to combat auto theft was unveiled by the government, following a national summit on the issue. The plan includes measures such as stiffer penalties and new offences targeting car thieves and the technology they use. While the plan does not impose specific requirements on automakers, it mentions commitments to modernize regulations and deter theft using technological advancements. The proposed amendments to the Criminal Code would make the possession and distribution of auto theft devices a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Other offences related to violent car thefts and organized crime involvement would have a maximum sentence of 14 years.

The plan also includes funding for various initiatives, such as $28 million for the Canada Border Services Agency to enhance its ability to detect and search shipping containers carrying stolen vehicles. Public Safety Canada will receive $15 million over three years to support police forces across the country in combating auto theft. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland emphasized the seriousness of the issue and the need for tough measures outlined in the plan. However, the opposition Conservatives criticized the government’s response to the rise in auto thefts, advocating for mandatory minimum prison sentences and advanced scanning technology at ports.

Law enforcement agencies have reported successes in combating auto theft following the national summit in February. A joint operation by the OPP and Canada Border Services Agency recovered 598 stolen vehicles at the Port of Montreal, with an estimated value of $35.5 million. The CBSA has intercepted 1,205 stolen vehicles in railyards and ports so far this year. The government’s efforts to address auto theft involve collaboration with various stakeholders, including automakers, regulatory agencies, and law enforcement. The rise in auto thefts poses a significant challenge to communities across Canada and requires a comprehensive and coordinated response from all involved parties.

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