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Insurance claims for Toronto auto thefts up 561 per cent since 2018 as claims in Ontario surpass $1 billion

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Insurance claims due to auto theft have skyrocketed in the Greater Toronto Area and across Ontario over the past few years, new data from the Insurance Bureau of Canada (ICB) shows.

Numbers released by the organization Tuesday show that auto theft claims in Toronto jumped from a little over $56 million in 2018 to nearly $372 million in 2023, an increase of 561 per cent.

That closely matches the increase across the province, with auto theft claims topping $1 billion in Ontario last year for the first time, a 524 per cent increase compared to five years ago.

“Auto theft is a national emergency,” Insurance Bureau of Canada Vice President Amanda Dean said in a release.

Toronto continued to top the list of Ontario cities when it comes to the total value of auto theft claims. It was followed by Brampton, whose claims jumped 719 per cent since 2018 to reach more than $93 million last year. Mississauga jumped 533 per cent to reach nearly $90 million worth of claims, while claims jumped 789 per cent in Vaughan to just over $62 million, and 989 per cent in Markham to $43.6 million.

However many other cities also showed huge jumps in claims, even if the total value was lower.

The total value of auto theft claims in Whitby jumped more than 20 times from $512,751 in 2018 to more than $12 million in 2023 – a staggering increase of 2,269 per cent. Claims in Pickering jumped more than 10 times from 802,520 in 2018 to nearly $11 million last year. Milton, Markham, Oakville, Richmond Hill and Ajax also claims jump by more than 800 per cent over that five year period.

In an interview with CP24, she said cooperation is required across multiple sectors to combat the problem.

“It’s going to take a whole-of-society approach,” Dean said. “Everybody’s got to come to the table. Everybody’s going to work towards the solutions when it comes toward combating auto theft.”

She praised the federal and provincial governments for rolling out plans to specifically combat auto theft and said there’s more that can be done by other stakeholders.

“There is certainly more that we can all do, insurers as well,” Dean said. “We want to keep raising the alarm bells. We want to keep sharing the data that we have, and we want to keep incentivizing insurance customers to help protect themselves. Manufacturers also have a big role to play in coming to the table with these discussions as well.”

Police services across the GTA have expressed concern over the past year about increasingly violent auto thefts. They have warned that the crime has become a sophisticated industry which sees hundreds of vehicles stolen in the province for export to foreign markets, with the proceeds funding other sorts of criminal activity.

Police announced in April that they had recovered nearly 600 stolen vehicles from shipping containers in the Port of Montreal over the past few months as part of an interprovincial auto theft investigation. Most of them had been stolen from the GTA.

The ICB Is calling for a national action plan which includes measures that make it more difficult to transport an export stolen cars.

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