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More than 1,500 stolen Canadian vehicles identified around the world since February: Interpol

More than 1,500 vehicles stolen in Canada have been identified by police forces around the world since the RCMP started sharing data with Interpol in February.

A statement from the international police agency’s headquarters in Lyon, France said that the number of vehicles traced back to Canada makes this country one of the top ten sources for stolen vehicles out of the 137 countries sharing data.

“In recent years, Canada has emerged as a key source country for stolen motor vehicles, in part given its large supply of sought-after high value models such as SUVs and crossovers,” Interpol said.

“Many of the vehicles are shipped to the Middle East and West Africa, where they are then traded or re-sold.”

Interpol says that most of the stolen Canadian vehicles have been identified at “national ports of entry” by law enforcement officials in other countries.

In February, Public Safety Canada announced it was giving $3.5 million to Interpol’s “joint transnational vehicle crime project.”

Interpol says that money is being used to enhance information-sharing and investigative tactics to locate and retrieve stolen vehicles and parts.

Last month, RCMP officers and Interpol agents took part in an operation in West Africa that recovered 65 stolen vehicles, some of which were from Canada.

‘A national crisis’

Interpol says that stolen vehicles are used as currency by international criminal networks and are tied to drug trafficking, human trafficking and terrorism.

The federal government estimates that 90,000 vehicles are reported stolen every year in Canada.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said that in 2022, 105,000 vehicles were stolen across the country. The IBC called auto theft “a national crisis.”

IBC said those thefts resulted in $1.2 billion in insurance claims — more than three times what was paid out in 2018. About $700 million of that sum was paid out in Ontario, where the IBC says auto theft claims jumped 329 per cent between 2018 and 2022.

To address the issue, the federal government held a national summit in Ottawa in February that featured representatives from provincial governments, insurers and automakers.

That same month, Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced $28 million in funding to help the Canada Border Services Agency improve its ability to search containers leaving the country.

LeBlanc and Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez, along with CBSA and RCMP officials, are appearing before a parliamentary committee Thursday to give evidence for the committee’s study of car thefts in Canada.

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