Car thefts in Canada are a “national crisis”

Missy Elliott once asked, “Beep beep, who got the keys to the Jeep?” These days, the answer to that question is too often, “sophisticated international crime syndicates.”

Driving the news: Car thefts in Canada rose exponentially last year, costing insurers over $1 billion, per a new report from Équité Association, up $300 million from the previous year. Équité Association’s president called the spate of thefts a “national crisis.” 

  • Québec, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada led the pack (and not in a good way), with car theft claims increasing in these areas, by 50%, 48%, and 34%, respectively.

Why it’s happening: It's not hooligans inspired by the Fast & Furious franchise. Years-long supply chain issues have left auto inventories diminished and demand high, making auto theft a lucrative felony for organized crime.  

  • Stolen vehicles are usually shipped out to West Africa and Europe, where in-demand models that would fetch $100,000 at home can fetch up to $250,000

It’s also a fairly easy crime to commit. The increased amount of tech in modern-day vehicles has created more methods for stealing them, some of which have gone viral on TikTok.

Why it matters: Auto thefts affect all car owners as they lead to increased insurance premiums, one Équité Association exec told The Globe and Mail, which “directly impacts Canadians at a time when inflation and affordability are putting excess strain on consumers.”  

  • While there are no precise numbers yet on how much the surge in car thefts has affected nationwide insurance premiums, the average Ontario auto insurance rate has risen by 12% since 2021. 

Zoom out: In the US, some cities are actually suing Hyundai and Kia for failing to put adequate safety features in certain models, claiming that it’s contributed to the rash of thefts.—QH