Car thefts are a Canadian epidemic

Thousands of Canadians have been left like a young Ashton Kutcher, dejectedly asking, “Dude, where’s my car?

Driving the news: Authorities in Italy recovered 251 stolen vehicles from Canada — ready to be shipped to the Middle East — after completing a bust at one of Europe’s busiest ports. 

  • It’s the second major vehicle bust of the week. In the GTA, police reclaimed 52 cars bound for places like Azerbaijan, and arrested 11 men in connection with the thefts. 

Big picture: Auto thefts are an “epidemic” in Canadian cities as criminal enterprises use simple gadgets to exploit the abundance of technology found in modern cars. Carjackings are also on the rise, particularly in Ontario, which had to establish a carjacking task force.

  • In 2022, car thefts were up 50% in Québec, 48% in Ontario, 34% in Atlantic Canada, and 18% in Alberta, per Équité Association data.

Why it’s happening: Thieves are going after cars as pandemic production backlogs made many vehicles (like the Honda CR-V or Ford F150) valuable on the black market. And once stolen, they can be easily shipped to far-off countries, usually through the Port of Montréal.

Why it matters: Even if you’re rocking a 2002 Honda Civic till the wheels fall off and have no plans to get a theft-worthy whip, the crime wave still impacts you by driving up insurance. Plus, many crime rings have ties to terrorist groups and use their gains to fund operations. 

What’s next: Next month, the feds are holding a national summit that will bring together politicians, law enforcement, and the auto industry to discuss the problem. One source told Bloomberg the government is weighing whether criminal law reforms are necessary.—QH