Vehicle theft rates in Canada have soared to unprecedented levels in 2022, resulting in over $1 billion in losses for insurers.
According to a new report by the Équité Association, this surge underscores the growing interest of organized crime syndicates in Canadian vehicles, perceiving them as a lucrative and low-risk opportunity for both domestic and international markets.
The profitability of illegal trade in stolen vehicles remains high, the report said, while the risk of prosecution for these criminals remains relatively low.
In provinces where data was available, Équité reported double-digit increases in vehicle thefts throughout 2022.
Ontario experienced a staggering 48.3% increase, while Quebec saw a 50% rise. Alberta, which had been observing a decline in thefts for several years, experienced a 18.3% spike. Atlantic Canada also faced a significant surge, with a 34.5% increase compared to the previous year.
Commenting on these findings, Équité president and CEO Terri O’Brien said vehicle theft has reached a “national crisis” level.
“We know for certain that vehicles in Canada are being stolen by domestic and international criminal organizations,” added O’Brien. “The proceeds are then being used to finance domestic drug trafficking, arms dealing, human trafficking, and international terrorism. These crimes hurt our communities and puts Canada in the spotlight internationally as a source country for illegal trade.”
Recognizing the need to address vehicle thefts across the country, Équité’s report recommended a four-step layered approach as the most effective means of safeguarding vehicles. This approach involves simple steps such as keeping car doors locked at all times and parking in well-lit areas, as well as installing specialized anti-theft devices.
“The techniques the criminals are employing are constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated,” said Bryan Gast, VP of investigative services at Équité. “Adopting a layered approach is the best way for Canadians protect themselves, their families, and their vehicles. Remember, when it comes to vehicle theft, the best offense is a good defense.”
The 2022 Vehicle Theft Trend Report, including detailed information on applying the recommended layered approach, can be accessed on Équité’s website.
Équité Association was founded in 2021 to assist Canadian insurers in combating fraud. Serving as the leading anti-fraud entity in the industry, it consolidates anti-fraud services and establishes a collaborative framework for insurers working to protect consumers from insurance-related criminal activities.
In January, the organization partnered with the Canadian Crime Stoppers Association to establish tip channels where consumers can easily report insurance crimes.
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