Canada is now a car theft capital of the world

In 2022, Canada saw over 105,000 car theft cases, averaging five cars per minute. Even Canada’s federal justice minister had his government-issued Toyota Highlander XLE stolen twice. In early summer, Interpol ranked Canada among the top 10 worst countries for car thefts, noting that over 1,500 Canadian-stolen cars had been detected globally since February, with 200 more identified weekly at various ports.

Logan LaFarniere awoke one October morning in 2022 to find his driveway empty—his new Ram Rebel truck, purchased a year and a half prior, was missing. Security footage revealed two hooded men stealing the truck in the middle of the night from his home in Milton, Ontario. A few months later, LaFarniere’s truck appeared on a website listing vehicles for sale in Ghana, over 8,500 kilometers away. The giveaway was the laptop holder with his son’s trash still in it, confirming it was indeed his truck.

LaFarniere’s experience is not uncommon.

Authorities explain that stolen cars are often used in other crimes, sold domestically, or shipped overseas. The Insurance Bureau of Canada declared car theft a “national crisis” as insurers paid over C$1.5 billion in claims last year. Police have issued advisories on preventing vehicle thefts, and some Canadians have taken measures like installing trackers, hiring private security, or even setting up retractable bollards in driveways.

Nauman Khan from Mississauga started a bollard-installation business after he and his brother were both victims of car thefts. Following a traumatic home invasion where thieves sought his Mercedes keys, Khan sold his luxury cars and now installs security bollards for others.

Despite Canada’s smaller population, its car theft rate is comparable to the US and UK, driven partly by a global car shortage and high demand for specific models by organized crime. Elliott Silverstein of the Canadian Automobile Association highlighted vulnerabilities at Canadian ports, where the focus is more on incoming rather than outgoing shipments, making it easier for stolen cars to be exported.

Efforts to combat car theft include large-scale police operations, like Toronto Police’s 11-month investigation recovering 1,080 vehicles worth C$60 million, and inspections at the Port of Montreal uncovering nearly 600 stolen vehicles. However, port staff limitations and chronic understaffing at the Canada Border Services Agency hinder these efforts.

Technological upgrades and better collaboration with law enforcement are necessary, as seen in the US. The Canadian government has promised investments to enhance CBSA capabilities and support police, but Silverstein stresses the need for auto manufacturers to make cars harder to steal.

After his Ram Rebel was stolen, LaFarniere bought a Toyota Tundra and added several security features. Despite these precautions, thieves attempted to steal it, shattering a window before fleeing when LaFarniere called the police. He ultimately repaired and sold the truck, describing the experience as “disheartening.”

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