Department of Justice Canada

Department of Justice Canada

April 21, 2009 11:08 ET

Government of Canada Introduces Legislation to Tackle Auto Theft and Property Crime

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 21, 2009) - The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today introduced legislation to tackle property theft, including the serious crimes of auto theft and trafficking in property that is obtained by crime.

"The best way to fight gangs and organized crime is to disrupt the criminal enterprises they depend on," said Minister Nicholson. "That is why our Government is cracking down on auto theft."

Trafficking in stolen property, along with other for-profit criminal activities such as drug trafficking and fraud, has been identified as a primary activity for organized crime. Auto theft, one form of property crime, impacts more individual Canadians and businesses than any other. The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates that auto theft costs more than $1 billion each year, taking into account health care, court, policing, legal and out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles.

This proposed legislation will give our law enforcement authorities and the courts better tools to fight this kind of crime, along with the entire range of activities involved in the trafficking of all types of stolen or fraudulently obtained property.

The legislation is aimed at tackling property crime in general, but in particular the serious crime of auto theft which often involves organized crime. The proposed legislation would:

- create a separate offence of "theft of a motor vehicle", which would carry a mandatory prison sentence of 6 months for conviction of a third or subsequent indictable offence;

- establish a new offence for altering, destroying or removing a vehicle identification number (VIN).

- make it an offence to traffic in property obtained by crime; and

- make the possession of such property for the purpose of trafficking an offence.

In addition, these amendments would provide for the application of customs powers to allow the Canada Border Services Agency to identify and prevent stolen property from leaving the country, thus providing a means to address the problem of the exportation of stolen vehicles from Canada by organized crime.

"The movement of stolen property through Canada's borders, especially automobiles, is a profitable enterprise for organized crime," said Minister Nicholson. "This law would expressly prohibit the importation or exportation of property obtained by crime, thereby giving our border security officers the authority they need to identify and detain stolen and other illegally obtained property and keep our borders secure."

An online version of the legislation is available at www.parl.gc.ca.


BACKGROUNDER

OFFENCES TARGETING AUTO THEFT AND PROPERTY CRIME

Trafficking in (or "fencing") property obtained by crime (such as stolen property or fraudulently obtained property) is the lynchpin that makes theft and other property crimes profitable. A complex criminal industry moves these stolen goods from the initial theft or other crime, to often unsuspecting consumers. Trafficking in stolen property, along with other criminal activities such as drug trafficking, prostitution and fraud, is one of the numerous ventures that makes organized crime so profitable.

Trafficking in stolen cars and auto parts is a particular form of property crime that carries serious economic and public safety costs for Canadians.

Approximately 146 000 vehicles are stolen in Canada each year. It is estimated that auto theft costs Canadians over $1 billion a year, and the dangerous driving that sometimes results from auto theft makes Canadian roads unsafe.

Organized crime groups tend to participate in auto theft by:

- Operating "chop shops," where stolen vehicles are disassembled and their parts are trafficked to often unsuspecting customers;

- Altering, obliterating or destroying the vehicle identification number (VIN) of a stolen car. All vehicles in Canada are required to have a VIN in order to clearly distinguish one motor vehicle from another. Criminal car theft rings typically replace the VIN of a stolen vehicle with one from a legitimate vehicle of the same make and model, essentially altering the vehicle's identity; and,

- Exporting stolen high-end sport utility vehicles and luxury sedans.

The legislation would address the first two issues by:

- Creating a separate offence of "theft of a motor vehicle", which would carry a mandatory prison sentence of 6 months for conviction of a third or subsequent indictable offence; and,

- Establishing a new offence for altering, destroying or removing a VIN.

Trafficking in Property Obtained by Crime

Trafficking in (or "fencing") property obtained by crime (such as stolen property or fraudulently obtained property) is what makes theft and other property crimes profitable. A complex criminal industry moves these stolen goods from the initial theft or other crime, to often-unsuspecting consumers.

Trafficking in stolen cars and auto parts is a particular form of property crime that carries serious economic and public safety costs for Canadians. The bill would give police and prosecutors better tools to fight car thieves, particularly organized crime rings.

The provisions in the bill would:

- Make it an offence to traffic in property obtained by crime; and,

- Make the possession of such property for the purpose of trafficking also an offence.

In addition, these amendments would provide for the application of customs powers to allow the Canada Border Services Agency to identify and prevent stolen property from leaving the country, thus addressing the problem of the exportation of stolen vehicles from Canada by organized crime.

Version francaise disponible

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of Justice
    Darren Eke
    Press Secretary
    613-992-4621
    or
    Department of Justice Canada
    Media Relations
    613-957-4207
    www.canada.justice.gc.ca