Hamilton Police Service receives provincial grant to combat auto theft

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Hamilton Police Service secures nearly $900,000 in Ontario funding to combat escalating auto thefts, amid rising trends of high-end vehicle thefts and declining recovery rates, prompting intensified efforts with additional investigators and technology upgrades. Photo Credit: Hamilton Police Service


Hamilton Police Service (HPS) will be receiving $895,760 in funding from the Government of Ontario to combat auto theft.

The money is part of the Ontario Government’s Preventing Auto Thefts Grant, which will see $18 million allocated over three years to various police services across the province.

The grant will be funding 21 different projects and will support “new and enhanced crime fighting measures” that focus on the prevention, detection, analysis, and enforcement of auto theft.

In response to the provincial announcement, Hamilton Police released a statement on X (formerly Twitter) saying that “auto theft in the City of Hamilton has shown a consistent upward trend each year since 2020, notably witnessing a rise in high-end vehicle thefts alongside a decline in recovery rates.”

“Today, the Ontario government is investing $18 million over three years to help police services combat and prevent auto theft, while protecting communities and keeping people and their property safe,” the statement continues.

“Hamilton Police will expand the auto theft team by adding two more investigators and an analyst. Additionally, we will collaborate closely with provincial auto theft teams to exchange strategic intelligence and enhance efforts in intercepting organized crime groups affecting our city.”

The Provincial Auto Thefts Grant was initially announced in May by Ontario’s Solicitor General Michael Kerzner, and police services had to apply to receive part of the allocated funds. HPS applied a number of weeks ago.

HPS also recently received a $1.6 million grant from the Government of Ontario to install Automated Licence Plate Readers (ALPR) and in-car camera (ICC) systems on its vehicles.

ALPR technology scans plates automatically, increasing police efficiency and identifying stolen vehicles with relative ease.

The grant funding comes amid recent public warnings from HPS that car thefts are rising.

Police warned in August that car thieves have been heavily targeting Waterdown.

Police also noted that the vast majority of stolen vehicles were newer models from 2016 or more recent.

They said that 2018-2022 Honda CR-Vs are the most stolen vehicles, followed by various Jeep and Range Rover models and trucks such as Ford F-150s, Dodge Rams, and Toyota Tacoma.

From January to June 2023, 662 vehicles were stolen in the City of Hamilton, representing a 12 per cent increase over the same period in 2022.

Police say that vehicles are sometimes stolen for parts, for criminal activities before being abandoned, or for sale overseas.

According to the province, a vehicle is now stolen every 14 minutes in Ontario. Earlier this year they said that a vehicle was stolen every 48 minutes.

From 2014 to 2021 there was a 72 per cent increase in auto thefts across the province and a 14 per cent increase in 2022 alone.

The first six months of 2023 indicate a further 31 per cent increase in vehicle thefts compared to the same period in 2022.

The province says thieves and criminal networks have specifically targeted the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

In addition to an increase in car thefts, the City of Toronto has also experienced a 78 percent increase in violent carjackings from 2021 to 2022.

The Government of Ontario also announced the creation of the Organized Crime Towing and Auto Theft Team earlier this year “to help police services identify, disrupt, and dismantle organized crime units.”

The Major Auto Theft Prosecution Response Team was also founded “to help police prepare and prosecute complex cases.”

The province says that they are also exploring new opportunities to partner with the Canada Border Services Agency and Royal Canadian Mounted Police as well as shipping container and rail companies.

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