Source: RCMP - X

Proposed changes to Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act will see repeat auto thieves having their licences revoked for life, in an attempt to quash the auto theft crisis. 

Ontario Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria and Solicitor General Michael Kerzner made the announcement during a press conference at an Ontario Provincial Police detachment in Toronto on Tuesday. 

The Ontario government is seeking a 10-year driver’s licence suspension as penalty for a first conviction of auto theft if it involved violence, force, use of a weapon or for the purpose of financial gain. 

A second offence could lead to a 15-year suspension and a third could result in the convicted having their licence revoked for life. 

“Car theft is a cowardly and often violent crime that can traumatize victims and communities who experience it,” said Sarkaria in a government release. “Under the leadership of Premier Ford, our government is sending a clear message to those who commit these crimes and using every tool in our toolbox to keep them off our streets.”

The legislation is to be tabled on Thursday, and will also include provisions for harsher penalties for those caught street racing. 

A first street racing conviction could come with an automatic licence suspension of at least one year. 

Similarly to the auto theft model, a third conviction could result in a driver losing their licence indefinitely.

“In the simplest of terms, speed kills. All too often we see drivers disobey the speed limits across the province and this is unacceptable, especially for the diligent drivers that follow the law,” said Kerzner at the conference.

According to the provincial government, a vehicle is stolen every 14 minutes in Ontario. In Toronto, it was every 40 minutes last year. 

Toronto carjackings have increased this year. 

According to Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw, carjackings in the first few months of this year doubled what they were over the same period in 2023. 

Additionally, the number of carjackings that involved the thief breaking into the owner’s  home to steal their car has already surpassed the entirety of those incidents from last year. 

A constable with Toronto Police Services caused a stir over comments made during a community meeting in March, telling residents to leave their keys accessible to auto thieves as a means to prevent them from being harmed in a home invasion.

The police force released a statement later to clarify that while Ricciardi’s comments were well meaning and in the name of public safety, there were better alternatives to protect one’s self from a home invasion. 

The auto theft crisis is not limited to Ontario, with a vehicle being stolen every five minutes in Canada. 

An ongoing multi-jurisdictional investigation into Canada’s auto theft crisis launched in December announced the recovery of 598 stolen vehicles last month.

Auto theft claims have skyrocketed since 2020, up 319% nationally, which prompted the OPP’s Auto Theft and Towing team to partner up with the Canada Border Service Agency to recover vehicles and intercept them before they’re illegally exported out of the country. 

The ongoing investigation called “Project Vector,” is being carried out in collaboration with the Sûreté du Quèbec, Montreal Police, and the Équité Association.