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Over 800 Cars Are Stolen Every Month In Canada Only To End Up Overseas

Photo: PvOberstein / Wikimedia Commons
Photo: PvOberstein / Wikimedia Commons

The rampant level of car theft in the Great White North has now become an international concern. Interpol announced in late May that over 200 stolen vehicles from Canada every week are being identified in other countries, typically at ports of entry. The international organization began this in February when it integrated the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s stolen vehicle database.

The RCMP’s database contains information on 150,000 stolen vehicles, and not even members of the Canadian government are untouched by the waves of thefts. The Justice Minister had his government-issued car stolen three times over the past three years, according to the CBC. David Lametti’s Toyota Highlander XLE was lifted in February 2021 and never found. Lametti was given another Highlander XLE, which was taken in February 2023 but was recovered that same month. That same Highlander was stolen from his successor, Arif Virani, in November 2023.

If the person in charge of stemming the country’s car theft crisis is such an easy target, then the average Canadian doesn’t stand a chance. The Toronto Police Service even recommended earlier this year not to make it difficult for thieves to steal your car to limit harm. The BBC spoke with one Ontarian about his personal experience:

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Logan LaFarniere woke up one October morning in 2022 to an empty driveway.

His brand new Ram Rebel truck was missing.

His security camera captured two hooded men breaking into the pickup in the dead of night outside of his Milton, Ontario home, and driving it away with ease.

A few months later, that very same truck appeared on a website of vehicles for sale in Ghana, an ocean and some 8,500km away.

“The dead giveaway was the laptop holder that we had installed in the back of the driver’s seat for my son, and in it was garbage that he had put in there,” Mr LaFerniere told the BBC.

That same clutter was visible in photos of the car listing, he said.

“There was no doubt in my mind that it was my vehicle.”

Canada’s ports have been a focus for law enforcement to stem the torrent of theft. All the revenue from the illicit trade is in shipping the vehicles overseas to sell. However, most port staff aren’t allowed to inspect shipping containers, so the cars essentially vanish once they are loaded into them. The understaffed Canada Border Services Agency also can’t inspect containers without a warrant. Canada is pretty much stuck on this road unless port security is significantly bolstered.

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