Insurance Bureau of Canada applauds federal government’s plan to get tough on auto theft

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MONTREAL, April 21 2009 – Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) applauds efforts announced today by the federal government to re-introduce comprehensive legislation to combat the serious problem of auto theft.

“Clearly, the federal government recognizes the many costs of auto theft,” said Rick Dubin, Vice-President, Investigations, IBC. “Not only does auto theft cost Canadians more than $1 billion every year, it also costs lives. The growing involvement of organized crime in auto theft is a threat to our safety and security.”

The legislation announced today increases the consequences of auto theft and targets the involvement of criminal organizations. It will empower Canada Border Services Agency to search containers at ports all across Canada, and to seize stolen vehicles meant for export. And it will make it a crime to tamper with vehicle identification numbers (VINs) and traffic in stolen auto parts.

The proposed legislation will also make auto theft a separate offence under the Criminal Code so that sentences are more appropriate for the severity of the crime. Presently, auto theft is considered a simple property offence, but thieves escaping in a stolen vehicle show little regard for public safety, and in many cases this has led to tragedy for innocent bystanders.

Auto theft costs Canadians over $1 billion each year, including police, court costs, medical services and other expenses. In 2007, auto theft cost insurers $542 million, or $35 for each auto insurance policy. The number of thefts across Canada dropped by 9% in 2007, but recovery rates also continue to decline.

The choice of Montreal as the location for the government’s announcement today is appropriate. In 2007, 22,403 vehicles were stolen in Montreal – more than in any other Canadian city. At the same time, the recovery rate in that city was the lowest in the country, at just 31%. Low recovery rate is a strong indicator of organized criminal activity because it means vehicles are being exported, chopped for parts or re-identified and sold to unsuspecting consumers.

“The measures announced by the federal government today reflect a commitment to the safety and security of Canadians. I urge all MPs to support this legislation and pass it as soon as possible,” said Dubin.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent nearly 95% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. The P&C insurance industry employs over 110,000 Canadians, pays more than $6 billion in taxes to the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and has a total premium base of $38 billion.

To view news releases and information, visit the media section of IBC’s website at www.ibc.ca.