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Hamilton to get $895K from Ontario to combat auto theft amid rise in ‘revinning’ scheme

Hamilton to get $895K from Ontario to combat auto theft amid rise in ‘revinning’ scheme
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Hamilton will receive $895,000 of an estimated $18 million the Ford government will be dropping into efforts to reduce vehicle thefts across Ontario.

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The grant will be paid out over three years and is one portion of 21 projects the province will fund to help local police services deal with the growing issue, which has recently been exasperated by the practice of ‘revinning’  – changing a vehicle’s identification number (VIN).

Hamilton MPP Donna Skelly says the cash, which is on top of $51 million promised last year, will be directed towards surveillance and tracking devices as well as training for police officers specific to targeting the expanding “epidemic” in the GTHA.

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“The other thing we’re hoping this will do is allow police departments … to work together to collaborate in tackling auto theft and the link to organized crime,” she explained. “To work with and foster partnerships with local car dealerships, because some of these vehicles are being taken right off of the dealership lot.”

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The goal is also to bring insurance bureaus, the CAA, other auto organizations on board to push preventative measures.

On Friday, solicitor general Michael Kerzner revealed car thefts in Ontario jumped 31 per cent in the first half of 2023 compared with the year before. Between 2014 and 2021 car thefts have risen 72 per cent and were up another 14 per cent last year.

“Every 14 minutes a vehicle is stolen in Ontario, and this investment will give police services the tools they need to successfully fight auto theft across the province,” Kerzner said.

In Hamilton, some 660 cars were taken by the halfway point of 2023, representing a 12 per cent increase from the same period in 2022.

Close to 200 high target vehicles were taken in 2022, a 57.8 per cent increase from 2021.

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Vehicles on the high target list include those primarily manufactured between 2016-2022 like:

  • Ford F-150s
  • Dodge Durangos
  • Dodge Rams
  • Toyota Highlanders
  • Toyota 4Runners
  • Toyota Tacomas
  • Lexus RX350s/RC350
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Jeep Gladiators
  • Jeep Wranglers
  • Range Rovers
  • Honda CR-V
  • Honda Pilots

Skelly suggests locking car doors is not enough nowadays with the some thieves brazenly taking vehicles from drivers in broad daylight via carjackings and at night using “very sophisticated” computer technology.

“With some sort of a device and laptop, in your driveway they can figure out what your code is to start your vehicle and drive away. It’s incredible,” she said.

Peel Region has the highest per capita number of stolen vehicles in the province — about 20 vehicles a day.

Organized crime is at the centre of much of the problem with the province suggesting many of the estimated 300 carjackings in the GTA this year were likely connected to such groups.

Canada seeing surge in stolen cars resold through ‘re-vinning’

An executive with a major worldwide multinational insurance company says the ‘re-vinning’ of vehicles has become a growing trend in auto theft through 2023.

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Jamie Lee, the vice president of fraud and financial crimes strategy at Aviva Canada, says the practice is an alternative to shipping overseas that allows stolen cars to be resold closer to home by changing a 17 character code.

“Criminals are actually cloning other people’s VINs from their vehicles, or they’re actually making up the VIN altogether and putting it onto the stolen vehicle so then it can be reused,” Lee explained.

She says there’s been a 300 per cent increase of vehicles stolen in Canada where the VIN has been changed then sold on market place sites like Kijiji and Facebook to unsuspecting customers. Some are even landing at dealership lots as well.

“Unfortunately they are, because of how many are being recycled in the market now,” Lee said. “If the proper checks aren’t done on the vehicles, then unfortunately sometimes they can slip through the net.”


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She says people who’ve ended up with a stolen vehicle through such purchases could lose that car without any legal recourse to get it back or compensation from insurance.

“People are actually being stopped on the side of the road by law enforcement because they may suspect the vehicle is stolen,” accordion to Lee. “If they identify the vehicle stolen, the vehicle will be seized there and then that person could be out of pocket for that purchase of the vehicle.”

Aviva suggests doing thorough searches on any vehicle you are looking to purchase, including data from CARFAX, having a mechanic look over it or contacting the Ministry of Transportation to find out the vehicle’s registration details.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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