What promising news came from Ottawa's national auto theft summit?

Équité president and CEO on the highlights and what can be considered by the government

What promising news came from Ottawa's national auto theft summit?

Motor & Fleet

By David Saric

With the National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft having taken place in the nation’s capital a few weeks back, Équité president and CEO Terri O’Brien (pictured) is happy to see what proposals and actions the federal government has in store to stop this existential crime.

“While the government is currently drafting the larger action plan to combat the auto theft crisis, they’ve already committed significant funding as a result of the summit,” O’Brien said.

This includes $121 million for Ontario to combat gun and gang violence, including auto theft, $28 million to increase the capacity of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and to conduct more investigations and enhance intelligence sharing, as well as $15 million being announced for law enforcement efforts, including an additional $9 million for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

“All of those funding announcements were very welcome, and they will make a meaningful impact to combat auto theft,” O’Brien said.

She was also encouraged at how Transport Canada committed to modernizing its Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, which have not been updated since 2007, as well as the general turnout for the summit.

“It was heartening to see such a robust discussion around a unified goal of combating auto theft across leaders in the federal and provincial governments, law enforcement agencies across Canada, the CBSA, several of our CEOs in our industry, and us at Équité and the IBC,” she said.

“I’m quite optimistic that we will continue to see meaningful results.”

In a conversation with Insurance Business, O’Brien also spoke about which key issues were missed during the summit and how Équité plans on continuing its efforts to thwart widespread auto theft.

What more could come from this national auto theft summit

While O’Brien was greatly encouraged by what was discussed at the National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft, she believes more can be done.

“There could have been conversations around short term technology solutions that the manufacturers could deploy through software patches or retrofitting key fobs with battery sleep, especially as Transport Canada works to modernize its Motor Vehicle Safety standards,” she said.

“We are seeing these simple technology solutions in other jurisdictions around the world that have been really effective at combating auto theft here in Canada.”

Elsewhere, O’Brien believes that some of the efforts of the auto manufacturers themselves may be misguided or not developed fully.

She specifically pointed to theft event privilege discounts, where individuals can receive a $10,000 discount if they are purchasing the same make and model of a vehicle as theirs that was stolen.

“This funding could be better directed at a $300 immobilizer that would prevent the vehicle from being stolen in the first place,” O’Brien said.

In addition, the president and CEO hoped to see more actionable plans from auto manufacturers as a whole.

“We hoped they would propose more concrete, preventative solutions, making the vehicles more difficult to steal in the first place, rather than focusing on organized crime rings at Canada’s ports,” O’Brien said.

Lastly, she is hoping to see a more actionable partnership between the CBSA and partners such as Équité, especially around data sharing.

“These types of public private partnerships create very effective and efficient ways of addressing auto theft. They pull resources, we lend our expertise, and they allow for more targeted searches — we see this in the US already,” O’Brien said.

How Équité is committed to stopping auto theft in the future

While combatting auto theft will not happen overnight, O’Brien offered assurances that Équité will be very much engaged in this worthwhile cause for the long haul.

In the more immediate future, the organization wants to collaborate with Transport Canada to get those vehicle safety standards modernized as quick as possible.

O’Brien is also hopeful that Équité’s work with its partners on auto theft will not stop there, but also address any related criminal activity.

“We want to ensure that organized auto crimes don’t move into accident benefits fraud or cargo theft. As one type of crime comes down, we often see that another one starts to gain traction,” she said.

The organization has already been proactive on that front with its EQ Insights platform.

Finally, as auto theft continues to help subsidize drug and gun trafficking in Canada, O’Brien and her team are also focused on taking out this essential funding mechanism.

“It will take moving into prevention to preventing the vehicles from being stolen in the first place to take these crimes down and protect honest, hardworking Canadians,” she said.

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