National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft Ottawa, ON February 8, 2024


Since its inception in 1984, the Used Car Dealers Association of Ontario (UCDA) has provided extensive support to stakeholders, government, law enforcement and regulators to try and help address issues of importance to our 5000 new and used automobile dealer members.
We have surveyed our members to gain insights from new car dealers, used car dealers, lessors, recyclers, rentals and others in the industry in assembling these responses. We have attached some direct comments from UCDA members as an Appendix to this submission.

It has become almost trite to observe that automotive theft in Canada has reached a crisis point. There are a number of reasons for this, just as there are a number of ways to address the problem. This complex issue will not be solved as the result of one summit, but we are pleased with this beginning.
There can be no denying that auto theft is a problem that must be addressed. For too long, law enforcement has viewed auto theft as a ‘victimless’ crime, where losses are covered by insurers, and they have dedicated resources to other areas deemed more pressing. Meanwhile, automotive manufacturers have designed automobiles with ease and convenience in mind, to the detriment of security. Finally, laws have clearly failed to keep up with advances in technology.

As criminals discover the lucrative and easy nature of auto theft, lax enforcement, and meagre punishments, more and more violent crime is associated with the activity. This causes business and the general public to lose confidence in the systems designed to protect and prevent them. Meanwhile, insurance costs, expenses and economic harm continue to rise.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada and the Équité Association report, in Ontario alone, over $700 million in losses due to auto theft, with over $500 million of that in the Greater Toronto Area in 2022. Only 57% of stolen vehicles are recovered nation-wide. The vast majority of stolen vehicles are 2019 or newer model years.

We believe efforts such as this being undertaken by the Federal Government of Canada, might be the start of a solution, by gathering the best and brightest from across the nation, and across disciplines, to work together and find the will to end this scourge once and for all.

This is a chance for Canada to emerge as a leader in solving this issue.


  • Stakeholders, manufacturers, all levels of government, insurers and law enforcement must keep lines of communication open and, for this, those lines must first be created and then maintained
  • Provinces and territories should have their own summits, like this one, that can then feed into and inform Federal auto theft summits going forward
  • Location tracking data of stolen vehicles must be swiftly shared with law enforcement (it can take less than 2 days from point of theft to export)
  • Allow for CPIC stolen vehicle data to be shared internationally, for example, with INTERPOL
  • Better data sharing from RIV, IRE, provincial and federal transport ministries
  • Create a central repository of registry data, like NMVTIS in the United States: The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) allows titling agencies to instantly and reliably verify the information on a paper title against the electronic data from the state that issued the title. NMVTIS protects consumers from fraud and unsafe vehicles and prevents the resale of stolen vehicles. NMVTIS also assists states and law enforcement in deterring and preventing title fraud and other crimes. Consumers can use NMVTIS to access important vehicle history information. NMVTIS was created to:
  1. Prevent the introduction or reintroduction of stolen motor vehicles into interstate commerce
  2. Protect states and consumers (individual and commercial) from fraud
  3. Reduce the use of stolen vehicles for illicit purposes including funding of criminal enterprises
  4. Provide consumers protection from unsafe vehicles

  • Manufacturers must be required to build to prevent hacking presently possible through relay attacks (“capturing” the signal of a key fob, then replicating it to enter and start a vehicle), onboard diagnostic ports, and the Controller Area Network.
  • Subsidize the cost of installing tracking devices
  • Hire more CBSA agents and prioritize vehicle recovery: CTV News CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION When his second Range Rover was stolen weeks after the first, it was initially tracked to the Canadian Pacific Railway yard in Toronto’s east end and just days later to a shipping container in the Port of Montreal. Taub said the provider of the tracking device, Tag, shared the car’s location with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which subsequently set that container aside. However, Taub said the CBSA told him it could take as long as four months to open the container due to the agency’s staffing shortages, and that it could still be shipped despite being set aside. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION “All calls for service are triaged for their level of priority, in this case, a vehicle located without suspects present or injuries is not a priority response,” acting Sgt. Tyler Bell said in a statement. “
  • Consumer education by government, insurers and dealers as to how to protect such assets
  • Investigate provincial vehicle registry systems that enable bad actors to ‘wash’ titles of stolen vehicles through fraud, cloning and other tactics to create fake ownership trails and documentation
  • Manufacturers need to design OBD locks for ports, or locate them where access is difficult without specialized tools or knowledge
  • Design and install immobilizers, or aftermarket options that can be hidden and not easily defeated
  • Two-factor identification, for example, remote start requires a code entry then push button, ie. something you have and something only you know
  • Involve and engage with other jurisdictions, ie. United States, Europe, Middle East, Africa in problem solving
  • Dealers in Ontario are required to disclose all material facts about a vehicle under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act: 27. A statement by the purchaser of all particular facts, if any, respecting the vehicle that the purchaser considers material to the purchase. O. Reg. 333/08, s. 39 (2); O. Reg. 221/09, s. 13. O. Reg. 333/08: GENERAL ( A requirement that OEMs make apparent any known security flaws or defects in advertisements would help consumers make informed decisions regarding the vehicles that they purchase. This will already be a requirement, as more OEMs look to sell vehicles direct to customers as “dealers”, but should also be required federally. This requirement would allow customers to make informed purchases about vehicles and put direct financial incentive on manufacturers to fix these security issues in the form of market pressures.

  • Marry salvage auto parts to VINs and confirm the VIN is legitimate. Enlist salvage auctions like Impact Auto Auction and Copart in this effort
  • Take a careful look at the “cash for junk cars” sector – from a theft perspective, for use of VINs, but also from a consumer protection perspective
  • Law enforcement must be geared to act swiftly on theft complaints, time being of the essence
  • Dedicated auto theft units should be created (or recreated) within policing organization. For years, such dedicated task forces were reduced or eliminated in the interests of budgetary constraints, as auto theft was seem as a ‘victimless crime’. We are seeing the consequences of this now and it needs to be addressed
  • Hold vehicles marked for export until checks can be run, treat the search for stolen vehicles the same way illicit drugs or weapons are handled.
  • Inspect containers to verify vehicles declared – visually, xray, sonar?
  • Organized crime in Quebec is said to be behind most exports from the Port of Montreal – arrest, detain and prosecute all such actors, treat this as a top priority
  • Increase punishments handed out to criminals who engage in, profit from or facilitate auto theft in Canada

  • Require manufacturers to install tamper-proof tracking technology into every vehicle they make
  • Update anti-theft deterrent standards, which have been in place since 2007, when remote start and push button starts were unknown. We support the recommendation of the Équité Association asking Transport Canada to update existing provisions of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations by adopting the recently updated safety standards provided by UL Standards & Engagement in the summer of 2023 in their CAN/ULC 338:2023, Second Edition, Vehicle Theft Deterrent Equipment and Systems: Electronic Immobilization System and Aftermarket Installation Requirements. These, and other amendments, would assure modern anti-theft technology will be present in today’s modern vehicles
  • Go back to the use of keys to start vehicles
  • Create a manufacturer compensation fund from which losses caused by poor security can be compensated
  • Require planned redundancy on security to be addressed regularly, every two or three years, by manufacturers
  • Transport Canada to issue recall notices to manufacturers to install anti-theft technology in high-risk units that do not have proper protection
  • Implement similar disclosure requirements for OEMs as motor vehicle dealers are required to follow when dealing with customers. This is particularly important as we move towards an “agency model” of vehicle sales direct by manufacturers, and the idea of fines against OEMs where their vehicles are disproportionately stolen and this fact is not disclosed to buyers

It is expensive to get vehicles back after theft recovery overseas. Rather than expect insurers to bear these costs, could funds from ‘victim of crime’ funds federally and provincially not be accessed? Or make the criminal organizations pay? Or make manufacturers share these costs in some way? Finally, do countries accepting stolen vehicles into their jurisdiction bear some responsibility here?


No more excuses, we need to find the will to solve this problem, and treat it as the national crisis we all agree that it is. Every time we see a roadblock standing in the way, let us work to remove it. When Canadians come together to problem-solve, as we are here, we are capable of great things.

The UCDA sincerely hopes this is the beginning of the solution, and that these efforts will not simply stop here. We think conferences like this should occur on a regular basis, and in Provinces and Territories as well, and metrics must be analyzed to ensure recommendations arrived at are implemented and followed.

We should know if we are being successful when we see these startling automotive theft statistics become a thing of the past.

Appendix to UCDA Submissions on Auto Theft



The following represents a selection of noteworthy comments from motor vehicle dealer members of the Used Car Dealers Association of Ontario (UCDA) responding to a member survey on January 29, 2024 on the issue of Auto Theft for the purpose of the National Summit on Auto Theft. Information Sharing
  • Manufacturers have the ability to track most vehicles now and should make this information available to the owners, insurance companies and the police, when a vehicle is stolen.
  • Vehicle immobilizers… perhaps these can be made more sophisticated
  • The manufacturers can stop theft by simply going back to starting vehicle with a key and provide a code system which would activate kill switch. This code can be changed by the owner of the vehicle anytime.
  • Keyless entry and push start are problematic. Theft is occurring on brand new vehicles with these features, thieves go about with decoder to copy a key. Making the key shell RFID would be helpful.
  • There needs to be a 2-factor solution for starting the car. Examples: Kill Switch, Bluetooth Connection to the owner’s Phone NFC Tag
  • Far better oversight and inspection processes at Ports so the stolen vehicles never make it out. Cars are easy to spot compared to smaller items that might have been stolen.
  • Better surveillance and enforcement at the sea ports to stop the cars from getting in the sea containers. ie….X-rays, etc.
  • Create better access to Border Point search and seizure as required.
  • What they’re doing elsewhere. Ensuring all vehicle shipments from Canadian ports are checked as in other countries. Why doesn’t the US have issues like Canada? They inspect all vehicle shipments leaving their ports, hence they don’t have this issue.
  • Stricter penalties. Police should dedicate more resources to fighting auto theft, such as a dedicated unit in the police force.
  • Anything that can impede a would be theft should be used. I cannot tell you how many airbags I have had stolen even with a shrouded “the club” on the steering wheel. If it makes them work harder to steel the vehicle it can’t be bad. In my experience when speaking to police after a total theft or an Air bag being stolen is the empathetic response from the actual policeman. It speaks to the fact that they do not feel they have enough support from within. Perhaps now the subject is looked at more seriously.
  • Catalytic converter sales to scrap dealers would benefit from adding regulations, so that they could only be purchased from / sold by licensed yards / dealers
  • Stronger laws that make thieves think twice before stealing another car.
  • The problem is who pays for it. It is much better to not have the vehicle stolen in the first place. Also, every container leaving major ports like Montreal and Vancouver should have their contents scanned and verified against a manifest to ensure legitimate transactions.