Ontario sets aside $18M for police forces to fight auto theft

Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks during a press conference at a Peel Regional police station in Mississauga, Ont., on Friday, November 24, 2023. 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 CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette.

The Ford government is doubling down on its efforts to reduce vehicle thefts, particularly in the Toronto area, with new funding.

In an announcement Friday morning in Mississauga, Ontario Premier Doug Ford unveiled provincial grant funding to help local police forces deal with the rising issue.

The grant is worth $18 million over three years and has been earmarked for 21 projects, according to the province.

Some of the items include surveillance and tracking equipment, specialized training and improving data tracking and management.

“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,” Ford said.

Car thefts in Ontario jumped 31 per cent in the first half of 2023 compared with the year before, according to the province.

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“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,” solicitor general Michael Kerzner said.

Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah, who was at the Mississauga announcement with the premier, said his region has the highest per capita number of stolen vehicles in the province, losing about 20 vehicles a day.

He said car theft is part of an “alarming trend” supporting a host of other crimes in organized networks.

The province also previously launched a task force run by Ontario Provincial Police and Toronto police officers to tackle vehicle thefts.

In an October joint statement, the forces said there have been more than 300 carjackings in the GTA this year, with more than 200 of those taking place in Toronto.

Vehicle theft more broadly has spiked in recent years, with some insurance industry groups calling it a crisis.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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