Source: RCMP - X

Canada’s auto theft crisis has accelerated beyond control as insurance claims reach record levels.

Claims increased 254% nationally between 2018 and 2023, reaching an unprecedented $1.5 billion in 2023, according to new data released by the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

This increase marks the second consecutive year where auto theft claims have topped $1 billion. Between 2018 and 2021, annual auto theft claims averaged almost half that amount, at $556 million a year.

“These numbers indicate that the auto theft crisis persists, disrupting the lives of Canadians and causing them concern and trauma. It places a heavy burden on law enforcement and courtroom personnel who work tirelessly to address these crimes,” said Liam McGuinty, vice president of strategy at the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

He added that auto thefts are not a victimless crime but lead to higher insurance premiums for all drivers as more claims are made.

Insurance premiums on commonly stolen car models have increased by 25% to 50% since 2022, according to data from Owners of “high-risk vehicles” are subject to a $500 high-theft vehicle surcharge.

While claims increased 254% between 2018 and 2023 across Canada, the crisis is most severe in Ontario, where auto theft claims increased 524% between 2018 and 2023, surpassing $1 billion in the nation’s most populated province alone.

While the data released on May 16 did not include specific metrics for provinces, the Insurance Bureau of Canada will release province-specific data within a few weeks.

The bureau said that high-end luxury vehicles are often targets for culprits because they are more desirable in illegal international markets.

“In many cases, stolen vehicles are exported to these markets by domestic and international crime organizations. The proceeds are then used to finance drug trafficking, arms dealing, and international terrorism,” said the bureau. 

The Insurance Bureau of Canada called for more action from the government to make vehicles more difficult to steal, transport, and export.

The federal government has since released its National Action Plan on Combatting Auto Theft on May 20.

“IBC commends the federal government on the release of its National Action Plan on Combatting Auto Theft… We thank the government and law enforcement agencies that contributed to its content,” said the bureau in a release issued after the plan was released.

The plan included several new offences to be added to the Criminal Code aimed at targeting auto thieves.

While the IBC applauded the Liberals’ plan to combat auto theft, the plan did not please the federal Conservatives.

“Justin Trudeau’s Liberal ministers will hold another one of their photo ops to talk about the out of control auto theft crisis they’ve caused,” said a spokesperson for Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre.

“Here’s the sobering truth about the situation after nine years of Justin Trudeau — a car is stolen every six minutes in this country and car theft is up 34%,” said the Conservatives.In February, Poilievre announced his party’s plan to combat auto thefts if elected, pledging to incarcerate repeat offenders, extend sentences while eliminating the option of house arrest, and provide additional funding to the Canadian Border Services Agency to hire more agents and purchase x-ray equipment.