Auto thefts on the rise

By Olivia Burwell

With a shortage of automobiles for sale across North America due to supply chain problems, car thefts have increased globally. In Toronto, according to the police Major Crimes Unit, the total number of auto thefts is up by 7.7 per cent for a total of 5,758 in 2020. This has since increased 13 per cent for a total of 6,508 in 2021.

After assault, car thefts are the second-most prevalent crime reported in the downtown core.

Most downtown auto thefts are heavily clustered along Dundas Street East in the centre of 51 Division. The Moss Park Neighbourhood saw a 333 per cent increase in 2020 and 2021 compared with the previous two years.

The Toronto Star has linked recent auto thefts to organized crime stealing high-end cars with their high-tech engineering, and sending them to Europe in shipping containers. But Detective Daniel Hoffmeyer states that the large
majority of local auto thefts are not linked to organized crime.

In 51 Division, “70% of stolen cars are recovered as a lot of auto thefts [are] particular to our division or Uber cars. Uber Eats drivers don’t lock their cars and it is theft of opportunity,” Hoffmeyer said. Uber Cars are easier to recover as they are frequently abandoned nearby after being stolen.

“Some of our thefts havebeen higher-end vehicles, and
the Major Crimes Unit have traced those cars to cargo carriers, but the majority is theft of opportunity,” he added.

Sophisticated organized crime thefts require high levels of organization and technical skills, targeting high-end cars and cars that are easy to resell
overseas such as the Honda CR-V. These groups can pick up keyless fob signals and track vehicles for later thefts.

Torontonians can avoid theft by simply locking their cars and parking in a secure facility. Using underground parking instead of street parking denies the thief an easy opportunity.