Toronto’s Car-Theft Surge is Concerning

The city saw a near 20 percent increase in car thefts last year (Artwork generated using Bing A.I /
By: Justin Shin, Martin Oldhues & Prachi Patel

Cars are a way of getting around, from work to home, people’s lives depend on forms of transportation. But many around Toronto have been victims of car jackings, leaving families worried for their safety.

In 2023, over 10,00 vehicles were stolen across the city, as the Honda CR-V Ranked number 1 for the second consecutive year, according to Équité Association.

Despite the precautions taken by residents, including installing steel poles on driveways and hiring Security around neighbourhoods, criminal organizations still have found ways around auto-theft prevention

The question now is understanding how cars are stolen in an evolving society.

Technologies Role

Technology, plays a part in the rise of carjackings, contributing to both the sophistication of theft methods and the accessibility of targets. With the advancement of keyless entry systems and remote start functionalities, modern vehicles offer convenience but also vulnerability to tech-savvy criminals.

Car thief planning to steal vehicle using enhanced technology. (Artwork generated using Bing A.I /

Hackers exploit loopholes in these systems, employing relay attacks and signal amplification techniques to remotely access and  start vehicles without physical keys. Also, the proliferation of online marketplaces and social media platforms provides a fertile ground for the sale and distribution of stolen vehicles and parts, enabling thieves to monetize their illicit activities with relative anonymity.

The advent of GPS tracking devices, initially designed to aid in vehicle recovery, has inadvertently empowered criminals with the means to locate and target high-value vehicles. Sophisticated thieves exploit vulnerabilities in tracking systems, using signal jammers and spoofing techniques to disable or manipulate GPS signals, thus evading detection and recovery efforts.

Additionally, the widespread adoption of vehicle immobilizers and anti-theft systems has prompted criminals to resort to more elaborate methods, such as signal relaying and key programming, to circumvent security measures and gain unauthorized access to vehicles. As technology continues to evolve, so too do the tactics employed by car thieves, highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive security protocols and proactive measures to safeguard against emerging threats.

All these factors lead to Toronto seeking an increase in car thefts over the past few years.


Concerned citizens

Carjackings in Toronto have a profound impact on individuals and communities, instilling fear, uncertainty, and a sense of vulnerability among residents. Beyond the financial losses incurred from vehicle thefts, victims often experience emotional distress and trauma, grappling with feelings of violation and insecurity. The prevalence of carjackings also erodes trust in public spaces and undermines the sense of safety that is essential for community well-being.


Joe Miller, A York University Student who owns a car, talks about his concerns about the increase in stolen vehicles. (Martin Oldhues/Seneca Polytechnic)

Joe Miller, a student at York University gives his reaction on how carjackings make him feel unsafe: “Yeah, sometimes, especially when you’re around here when you’re paying for parking, you’re risking it right. I normally take the GO train down, so I don’t normally try to park down here because of that, and because of, you know, costs.”


Fahad Mohammed, another student at York, shares his concern: “All the cars that you wanna get that they say are like high stolen vehicles, like the Dodge Charger, Toyota Camry, all those type of stuff. So it sucks, it doesn’t feel like it’s safe enough to drive your own car that you paid for, I don’t own a car personally, so I may not be the right person to ask, but it is concerning for a future car owner.”

Preventing carjackings

Preventing carjackings in Toronto necessitates a multifaceted approach that combines community engagement, law enforcement initiatives, and technological advancements as experienced criminal organizations ship cars to third-world countries, selling at three times the value in Canada, from low market competition and higher taxes.

Varun Singh discusses how the security company ensures their client’s protection and safety in a zoom meeting. (Martin Oldhues/Seneca Polytechnic)

Varun Singh, Operations Supervisor at Flex Point Security, said their organization provides “detail reporting of licence plates from cars coming into the neighbourhood and CCTV monitoring, keeping a good eye on the people.” and works closely with groups to ensure safety in communities “we have a partnership with Toronto Police or the York Region Police, whatever municipal police we have, we also have that partnership going on, if anything goes wrong, we automatically call them and they come onto the site to prevent that theft.”

One of those partners is the Canadian Border Services Agency, which supports law enforcement and works to track vehicles and bring them back to their rightful homes.

So far this year, 141 vehicles have already been recovered in the GTA, which would exceed the last numbers by nearly 400.

Figuring out a solution to preventing car theft has been a top priority for the Canadian government. This week, the Liberals held a national summit to tackle car thefts across Canada, detailing plans to ban the sales of tools which criminals use to unlock vehicles. Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre outlined a plan to increase sentences for repeat carjacking offenders, with no chance of house arrests or patrol.

A national problem like this may take time before results start to show “as an incoming recession and high-interest rates continue to change the world,” said Singh.

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