MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.
“Conservative Legislation Aims to Take the Gas Out of Auto Theft”
Auto theft is big business in Canada. It may often be a young local punk who actually steals the vehicles but it’s likely they’ve been recruited by a very organized operation that preys upon troubled youth knowing they face less severe penalties if they’re caught.
It’s these “middle men” in organized crime groups who move the vehicles out of the country or to “chop shops” to be dismantled for parts and sold to “unsuspecting” Canadians or others overseas.
Vehicle theft represents a serious financial drain on Canadians …$1-Billion every year in court costs, health care, policing, legal and out-of-pocket costs, such as insurance deductibles. That price tag for individuals and businesses is higher than any other kind of property theft in Canada.
Yet the laws surrounding auto theft are so out-of-date that the criminal enterprises responsible are able to continue to thrive.
This week, I introduced in the House of Commons on behalf of Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, new Conservative legislation to crack down on auto theft and trafficking in property that is obtained by crime.
Bill C-26 proposes to target auto theft rings by creating a new “theft of a motor vehicle” offence under the Criminal Code. A third or subsequent conviction for this offence would carry a mandatory minimum six-month sentence yet anyone convicted of motor vehicle theft could face a prison term of up to 10 years. The legislation would also establish a new offence for altering, destroying or removing a vehicle identification number (VIN).
In further measures to give our justice system ‘teeth’ against these crimes, the Bill would make it an offence to traffic in property obtained by crime and make the possession of such property for the purpose of trafficking an offence.
These are concrete steps to close loopholes that have allowed the ‘middle man’ in auto theft rings and chop shops to avoid prosecution because they didn’t actually ‘steal’ the vehicle or there is insufficient evidence they stole it.
The legislation goes even further in providing yet another tool against auto theft by allowing the Canada Border Services Agency to investigate, identify and detain imported vehicles or vehicles about to be exported, and search databases to determine whether or not such vehicles are stolen.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates that about 146,000 vehicles are stolen across Canada every year and that as many as 30,000 high-end stolen vehicles are exported via Canadian ports each year.
The insurance industry, policing agencies and the provincial governments have embraced this new Conservative legislation. What’s even more encouraging is early indications from the federal opposition parties are that they will not impede our new auto theft legislation.
This is a welcome sign of cooperation towards cracking down on a crime that affects and costs average Canadians every day. As Government House Leader, I will continue to work with my Liberal, NDP and Bloc counterparts in the hopes of securing rapid passage of the Bill.
If you would like to read the legislation or to review other legislation introduced by our Conservative Government, go to the “Bills” section at www.parl.gc.ca.