Advances in technology that provide keyless driving have provided convenience to car owners, but have also opened the door for criminals, experts say.
With vehicle theft surging across Canada, the auto industry is introducing new ways to beef up security and prevent stolen cars from getting exported outside of the country.
A report by Équité Association published in November said there has been an increase in thefts for export, increased use of sophisticated theft technology, and high-end vehicle thefts.
It’s a “coast-to-coast problem,” said Bryan Gast, vice president of investigative services at Équité Association, with Ontario leading the number of vehicles stolen in the country, followed by Quebec and Alberta.
For example in Toronto last year, there were 9,439 reports of auto theft — a jump of nearly 45 per cent from the previous year. Toronto Police Service records show that auto theft has increased annually every year since 2018.
It’s a similar story in Calgary, which saw a 24.5 per cent rise in vehicle theft incidents last year, as of October 2022.
Lingering global supply chain issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic with limited inventory and large demand have driven the rise in auto theft, experts say — and organized crime networks are cashing in by using Canada as “a source country.”
“Now you’re starting to see other countries targeting Canada for their vehicles,” Gast said.
The vehicles are stolen for export, for use in the commission of other offences, for the purpose of rebuilding, and for the smallest percentage, joyriding, he said.