Insurance Bureau of Canada urges federal MPs to toughen punishment for auto theft

TORONTO, May 28, 2007 – Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has strongly urged federal MPs to support Bill C-343, which would make auto theft a separate offence under the Criminal Code and implement mandatory jail times for repeat offenders. Bill C-343 is currently before the House of Commons for second reading.

“Bill C-343 is an important piece of legislation that could save lives,” said Mark Yakabuski, Vice-President, Federal Affairs and Ontario, IBC. “It recognizes that auto theft is a violent offence and should be treated as such.”

He added: “Police say that auto theft is not a stand-alone crime. Taking a tough stand on auto theft helps police crack down on other offences, such as break-and-enter and drug trafficking.”

Currently, auto theft falls under theft of property over or under $5,000 in the Criminal Code.

Yakabuski added: “Auto theft is not merely a property crime. It is a crime that is both a serious and violent offence that threatens the safety and security of our communities — something that the people of Ontario know all too well. We’ve all seen the media reports of Ontarians, including law enforcement personnel, being injured or killed by people driving stolen vehicles.”

According to Statistics Canada, in 2005, the latest year for which data is available, a total of 39,483 motor vehicle thefts occurred in Ontario, including more than 16,200 in the city of Toronto alone. Overall, more than 160,000 vehicles were stolen nationwide.

Auto theft costs lives. A study by the National Committee to Reduce Auto Theft concluded 81 people were killed due to auto theft between 1999 and 2001.

Auto theft costs Canadians more than $1 billion a year, a cost borne by every citizen through taxes and insurance premiums. The national rate of auto theft is 56% higher than 20 years ago, and is rapidly shifting away from being a random act toward organized crime rings, as documented by Statistics Canada and the RCMP.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national trade association of the private property and casualty insurance industry. It represents more than 90% of the non-government home, car and business insurance in Canada. For more information, visit www.ibc.ca.