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Ottawa police struggling to stop surging car thefts

Police: 1,854 vehicles lost in 2023 and about half were recovered

From CBC News | Elyse Skura

Ottawa police say they've have had their hands full trying to stop a surge in vehicle thefts that shows no sign of slowing down, with the equivalent of five vehicles going missing every day last year. 

Of the 1,854 vehicles lost in 2023, Sgt. Catherine Brown said about half were recovered, "which was substantial." 

Ottawa police Chief Eric Stubbs suggested proactive patrols, daylight car chases and multitude of arrests have not been enough to stem a steady wave of thefts that seems yet to crest. 

"We are finding they are younger people [being apprehended]: they're age 16, 17 to maybe 21, 22," he explained to reporters ahead of Monday's Ottawa Police Services Board meeting. 

"They are not the heads of this organized crime. They are just being paid to do a job: come in and steal. So it's not stopping it."

Stubbs was "very pleased" by the Liberal announcement of a national auto-theft summit next month, saying this is not an Ottawa or Ontario issue, but a Canada-wide problem. 

Organized crime exploiting 'loophole,' says councillor [Hill]

Police say many of the vehicles secreted away from mall parking lots or brazenly taken from neighbourhood driveways make their way across provincial and national borders: rushed to Montreal, loaded into shipping containers and sent to Africa or the Middle East.

Coun. David Hill pushed the force's top brass for a new plan at the board meeting, calling for an "ambitious" approach. 

"It really grinds my gears that organized crime has found this loophole to take advantage of jurisdictional boundaries to make a lucrative game of this," he later told CBC. 

Hill said his Barrhaven West constituents suffer the highest rate of vehicle theft in the city, with some residents reporting having cars stolen twice in the same year. 

The way to "squeeze out the gaps" being exploited by cross-border crooks, he says, is to get all levels of government working together. 

Read full article here.


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