Ottawa, Ontario – New federal legislation has been proposed that would tackle property theft, including auto theft and trafficking in property that is obtained by crime. The legislation was introduced by Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

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

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.

The proposed legislation would create a separate offense of “theft of a motor vehicle,” which would carry a mandatory prison sentence of six months for conviction of a third or subsequent indictable offense; establish a new offense for altering, destroying, or removing a vehicle identification number (VIN); make it an offense to traffic in property obtained by crime; and make the possession of such property for the purpose of trafficking an offense.

The amendments would also provide for the application of customs powers to allow the Canada Border Services Agency to identify and prevent stolen property from leaving the country, providing a means to address the problem of stolen vehicles being exported from Canada by organized crime.

Approximately 146,000 vehicles are stolen in Canada each year. Organized crime groups tend to participate in auto theft by operating “chop shops” to disassemble vehicles and sell their parts, altering or removing VINs, and exporting stolen high-end SUVs and luxury sedans.

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