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Ontario introducing stiff penalties to combat auto theft

  • Thieves will face licence suspensions including lifetime ban for repeat offenders

TORONTO, Canada – The Ontario government is cracking down on auto theft by introducing legislation that, if passed, would suspend driver’s licences for people convicted of the crime. With auto thefts and carjackings on the rise across the province, the legislation would help deter potential thieves and make it more challenging for criminals to re-offend.

“Car theft is a cowardly and often violent crime that can traumatize victims and communities who experience it,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, minister of transportation. “Under the leadership of premier Ford, our government is sending a clear message to those who commit these crimes and using every tool in our toolbox to keep them off our streets.”

Under the proposed legislation, thieves convicted of motor vehicle theft under the Criminal Code would face a 10-year licence suspension for a first offence, a 15-year licence suspension for a second offence and a lifetime licence suspension for a third offence. Licence suspensions would apply to convictions where the court found that aggravating factors were involved in the commission of the offence, such as violence, use of a weapon, use of force, threat, or pursuit of financial gain.

“Under the leadership of premier Ford, our government is taking bold action to stop what is a serious and often violent crime,” said solicitor-general Michael Kerzner. “Criminals who want to steal a car in Ontario need to know there will be severe consequences for doing so.”

In addition to stiff penalties for auto theft, the province is also proposing to strengthen penalties for stunt driving. The proposed legislation would ensure that anyone convicted of stunt driving receives a minimum mandatory licence suspension – one year for a first conviction, three years for a second conviction and a lifetime suspension, reducible to ten years under certain criteria, for a third conviction.

Quick facts

  • Every 14 minutes, a vehicle is stolen in Ontario, with Toronto experiencing a 78 per cent increase in violent carjackings since 2021.
  • The federal mandatory minimum prison sentence for a third auto theft offence is six months.
  • In 2023, over 12,000 immediate roadside licence suspensions were issued for street racing and/or stunt driving – the highest number since the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Ontario government is investing $18 million over three years to help police services combat and prevent auto theft.
  • Together with the federal government, Ontario has invested more than $250 million through the Guns, Gangs and Violence Reduction Strategy (GGVRS) to fight gun and gang crime, including auto theft.

“Auto theft has reached a crisis level across Ontario. The Insurance Bureau of Canada supports the Ontario government’s continued commitment to combatting auto theft and better-protecting Ontarians and their families.” ~ Amanda Dean, Vice-President, Ontario and Atlantic, Insurance Bureau of Canada.

“Convicted auto thieves and violent carjackers do not deserve the privilege of driving on Ontario’s roads. Ontario’s 1,100 new car and truck retailers support the Ontario government’s approach to punishing these criminals with a lifetime driver’s licence suspension for people convicted of a third offence. This legislation is another example showing how focussed and committed premier Ford and his government are to fighting auto theft.” ~ Frank Notte, Director of Government Relations, Motor Vehicle Retailers of Ontario.

“The profits generated through auto theft grossly outweigh the risks for vehicle thieves in Canada. Measures such as this bring us one step closer to ensuring real consequences for vehicle theft.” ~ Brian Kingston, President & CEO, Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association.



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