Less than halfway through 2022, Toronto has already seen more carjackings than all of last year, police say – and Mayor John Tory hints at further police action to try to stem the tide of thefts violent cars.
At a press conference Thursday, Tory said Toronto is seeing organized criminals engage in “brazen” behavior that puts people’s safety at risk. He said he had spoken to Chief Constable James Ramer and expected police to announce more enforcement and oversight in the coming days, although he had lacked details.
“Stealing a car is one thing and it’s not a good thing…but potentially endangering people’s lives or endangering neighborhood safety is just not something we’re going to accept,” said Tory.
Toronto police say as of Thursday, investigators have found 64 carjackings in the city this year, up from 59 in 2021.
At a press conference Tuesday, Insp. Rich Harris told reporters that police have made 20 carjacking arrests so far this year. A police spokesman was unable to immediately provide an updated tally of the number of arrests related to the cases Thursday afternoon.
The number of carjackings in the area drew national attention after Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner had his Range Rover stolen outside a movie theater on Monday.
Incidents keep piling up
Since then, the incidents and arrests have piled up – from a second teenager who is now facing charges after a botched carjacking last week, to three carjackings in Scarborough and North York which were reported in less than two hours on Wednesday evening.
Similarly, a home invasion and car theft forced two Toronto schools to adopt restraint and security precautions this morning.
In a press release on Thursday, police said that in the last three carjackings in the city on Wednesday, the suspects acted in the same way:
- The victim was near their car, which was parked in their driveway.
- Several men pulled into a white sedan, then a man jumped out of the passenger side and ran towards the victim.
- The suspect then pulled out a gun and asked the victim to hand over the keys, before jumping into the victim’s car and driving off.
- The other men would then drive off in the first car, which police describe as a white four-door Hyundai Elantra.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Harris said nearly every hijacked vehicle in the city ends up being sold for profit. He also said there is generally a level of sophistication with these types of crimes in the city, with some stolen vehicles ending up being shipped overseas.
High-end and economy cars targeted
At a meeting of the Toronto Police Service’s board of directors earlier this year, the service reported that car thefts increased by 58% between 2017 and 2020 and another 8% in 2021 compared to 2020. .
In 2021, about 80,000 vehicles were stolen in Canada, a 1% increase from the previous year, according to Equite Association, an organization formed from the investigative arm of the Insurance Bureau of Canada and CANATICS, which analyzes auto theft across the country.
The big targets were cars with push-button ignition systems, which make up the vast majority of vehicles on the road, officials said. High-end cars were also targeted, but also reliable and plentiful vehicles like Honda CR-Vs and Civics.
The Lexus RX350, models 2019-2017, were the three most stolen cars in Ontario in 2021, Equite said.
In Toronto, the Honda CR-V was the most stolen car last year, with 654 taken, followed by the Lexus RX350, with 418 taken. Range Rovers and Toyota Highlanders were also among the most stolen.
Police are advising all drivers to be aware of their surroundings and to call 911 if they suspect they are being followed.