Funds to prevent car theft welcomed by Hamilton police

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Published November 24, 2023 at 1:52 pm

The Ontario government has approved an $18 million grant to work toward preventing car thefts amid a sharp rise in the crime. The move was welcomed by Hamilton Police who are working to upgrade their auto theft unit.

The Province announced the Preventing Auto Thefts (PAT) grant on Nov. 24. It will spend the $18 million on 21 programs over the next three years. The programs will focus on “new and enhanced crime-fighting measures focused on prevention, detection, analysis and enforcement,” the province wrote.

“This investment will help our police services crack down on the growing problem of auto theft, dismantle organized crime networks and get these criminals off the streets and behind bars where they belong,” said Premier Doug Ford.

The funds will head to police service across Ontario to help them pay for;

  • including surveillance equipment, software and GPS tracking devices
  • specialized training for investigators
  • new units dedicated to auto theft, including cross-jurisdictional ones
  • data collection and analysis efforts
  •  partnerships with organizations like Insurance Bureau of Canada and the Canadian Automobile Association, as well as local car dealerships

“Every 14 minutes a vehicle is stolen in Ontario, and this investment will give police services the tools they need to successfully fight auto theft across the province,” said Solicitor General Michael Kerzner.

With auto theft on the rise, Ontario established a few initiatives to address the issue this year. This includes Organized Crime Towing and Auto Theft Team led by the Ontario Provincial Police and new Major Auto Theft Prosecution Response Team.

The province found car theft rates have increased Ontario-wide 72 per cent increase since 2017 and a 14 per cent increase in the last year alone. This was worse in Toronto specifically which saw an 81 per cent jump. In the last year, rates of violent carjackings went up 78 per cent.

Hamilton has also seen a sharp rise in car theft, though neither the province nor Hamilton police provided an exact figure. Police did say, “Auto theft in the City of Hamilton has shown a consistent upward trend each year since 2020, notably witnessing a rise in high-end vehicle thefts alongside a decline in recovery rates.”

They will expand Auto Theft team with two more investigators and an analyst. “Additionally, we will collaborate closely with provincial auto theft teams to exchange strategic intelligence and enhance efforts in intercepting organized crime groups affecting our city,” they said.

 

 

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