With the rise of auto theft running rampant in recent years, it’s been a topic of conversation for many. Many cities nationwide are unfortunately struggling to keep up with the high increase in stolen vehicles. Ottawa in particular, is getting hit quite hard. Last year, the city had over 1,800 cars stolen, an average of about five per day. As we approach the halfway point of 2024, Ottawa is on track to breaking this record. So far, over 700+ vehicles have been stolen in Ottawa alone. So, what is being done? isure has everything you need to know about the stolen car epidemic plaguing Ottawa.

Barrhaven is no longer a hot spot for stolen vehicles in Ottawa

Since the beginning of 2024, Ottawa’s Bay Ward has had the second-highest number of stolen vehicles, clocking in with over 59; a marked increase compared to 2023. Southgate Ward currently leads the list for the highest amount of vehicle thefts in 2024 at 64.

“People know that this is a trend across the country, but we were surprised by the high numbers (in the ward),” Theresa Kavanagh, the city councilor for Ward 7 Bay told Ottawa Citizen. Recently, Kavanagh was out in her ward handing out signs to residents to deter thieves from vehicle break-ins. The signs read “All valuables removed.” Last year, Barhaven was the “hot spot” for vehicle thefts, with over 180 reported in the area. This year, the ward has seen a significant decrease. So far in 2024, Barhaven has seen 38 thefts reported in the West Ward, with 18 in the East. The leader is the Gloucester-Southgate Ward, with 64 reports so far.

David Hill, a Ward 3 councilor for Barrhaven West, attributes the decrease to the increased collaboration with government stakeholders and the private sector. On top of this, there has been an increased police presence in the area. “At the end of the day, cases being identified by organized crimes are extremely lucrative and we need to actively get ourselves organized to address this,” Hill states. “I spoke to a number of concerned residents about neighbourhood watch, so I think there’s more vigilance and awareness in the community.”

Will the government’s new action plan help combat this issue?

With the increase in car thefts spiking, Hill believes the issue remains a community problem that needs addressing at all government levels. “This is a cross-jurisdictional issue, and part of the problem is that one level of government can’t solve this issue alone,” Hill says. He also called for investments in proper scanning technologies within the Port of Montreal to ensure the shipping of stolen goods doesn’t make their way overseas.

With this being said, all three government levels are making note of the issue. The federal government announced its National Action Plan earlier this month. This plan specifically targets organized crime groups involved in the theft of vehicles, including stolen vehicles in Ottawa. The new plan involves targeting those who distribute devices used to aid in stealing cars. On top of this, criminal code offenses and a 14-year maximum sentence instead of 10 for violent thefts will be implemented. The plan includes heightened border inspections to decrease the export of stolen vehicles.

Premier Doug Ford’s government also stated legislation for convicted auto thieves: a 10-year licence suspension for first offenders. On top of this, a lifetime suspension for third offenses.

Ottawa is doing its part to stop stolen vehicles

Police within Ottawa are also doing their part in taking action. West Councillor Wilson Lo highlighted the recent operation at the Montreal Port in April 2024. There, nearly 600 stolen vehicles were recovered. Lo believes these operations send a strong message.

“Even though [auto theft] is not a crime against a person, you still feel violated when something of yours is stolen,” Lo told the Ottawa Citizen. “Incidents like these certainly shake your confidence in how safe you feel in your community and probably confidence in the police and political leaders.” In the meantime, Lo advises his residents and all residents of Ottawa to take preventative measures.

“Put a club on your steering wheel; if you have to park it outside. Put your keys at the back of the house far away. And don’t leave any valuables in your car.”

Stolen vehicles in Ottawa: A conclusion 

Between the new National Action Plan and preventative measures, we hope to see a decrease in stolen vehicles soon enough. This also extends outside of Ottawa, with a rise in stolen vehicles becoming evident country-wide. By following some of our home safety tips, you can do your part to ensure your car is safe and sound while at home. It has become more crucial than ever to ensure you have a good insurance policy. This way, you can be prepared for the worst. Contact us or request a quote today.

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