Source: X - CBSA

Over 200 Canadian cars a week have been found scattered across the world, reported as stolen and usually located at national ports of entry, according to Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization.

The RCMP integrated the Canadian Police Information Centre’s stolen vehicle data with Interpol’s stolen motor vehicle database in February.

Since then, more than 1,500 Canadian vehicles have been detected worldwide.

Interpol confirmed in a news release that Canada ranks among the top 10 countries in hits received through the stolen motor vehicle database this year, out of the 137 countries connected worldwide.

Interpol’s stolen motor vehicle database connects 137 countries and holds data on 12 million vehicles worldwide. The database allows police from member countries to check whether a suspicious vehicle has been reported as stolen. In 2023, approximately 226,000 cars were identified as stolen worldwide through Interpol’s database.

Interpol manages a range of databases containing information related to criminals and crimes, with over 125 million police records and 5.9 billion database searches.

The RCMP’s Canadian Police Information Centre’s database contains information on around 150,000 stolen vehicles in Canada. 

Canada’s abundant supply of high-value models like SUVs and crossovers makes it an attractive target for thieves.

“Stolen vehicles are international criminal currency. Not only are they used to traffic drugs, but also as payment to other criminal networks as well as fuelling activities from human trafficking to terrorism,” said Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock.

Many Canadian vehicles found to be stolen are shipped to the Middle East and West Africa, where they are traded or re-sold, according to Interpol.

“Sometimes overlooked, a stolen car is not just car theft. It is part of a major revenue stream for transnational organized crime. Through increased data sharing at the global level, we can better screen vehicles at border points, identify trafficking routes, and arrest the perpetrators,” said Stock.

Due to insurance claims reaching an unprecedented level in Canada thanks in part to the auto theft crisis, insurance premiums in the country have increased between 25% and 50% on commonly stolen car models, with owners of “high-risk vehicles” being subject to a $500 surcharge. Claims increased 254% nationally between 2018 and 2023, reaching $1.5 billion in 2023.

Bryan Gast, vice president of investigative services for Équité Association, said the problem has reached “crisis levels.”

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said he would fix Canada’s car theft crisis if elected prime minister.

“Common sense Conservatives will reverse Trudeau’s reckless policies that have turned our federal ports into parking lots for stolen cars. By making it much harder to ship cars overseas where they can be sold, this violent get-rich-quick scheme that gangs around the country have been taking advantage of will no longer be possible,” said Poilievre.

The federal Port of Montreal is severely understaffed, with only five agents tasked with inspecting all containers passing through annually. This port, a primary exit point for stolen cars, has just one often malfunctioning X-ray scanner, leading to Canadian Border Service agents inspecting less than 1% of all containers.