Insurance Bureau of Canada urges federal MPs to toughen punishment for auto theft



    TORONTO, April 26 /CNW/ - Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) today strongly
urged federal MPs to support Bill C-343, which would make auto theft a
separate offence under the Criminal Code and implement mandatory jail times
for repeat offenders. Bill C-343 is currently before the House of Commons for
second reading.
    "Bill C-343 is an important piece of legislation that could save lives,"
said Mark Yakabuski, Vice-President, Federal Affairs and Ontario, IBC. "It
recognizes that auto theft is a violent offence and should be treated as
such."
    He added: "Police say that auto theft is not a stand-alone crime. Taking
a tough stand on auto theft helps police crack down on other offences, such as
break and enter and drug trafficking."
    Currently, auto theft falls under theft of property over or under $5,000
in the Criminal Code.
    Yakabuski added: "Auto theft is not merely a property crime. It is a
crime that is both a serious and violent offence that threatens the safety and
security of our communities - something that the people of Ontario know all
too well. We've all seen the media reports of Ontarians, including law
enforcement personnel, being injured or killed by people driving stolen
vehicles."
    According to Statistics Canada, in 2005, the latest year for which data
is available, a total of 39,483 motor vehicle thefts occurred in Ontario,
including more than 16,200 in the city of Toronto alone. Overall, more than
160,000 vehicles were stolen nationwide.
    Auto theft costs lives. A study by the National Committee to Reduce Auto
Theft concluded 81 people were killed due to auto theft between 1999 and 2001.
    Auto theft costs Canadians more than $1 billion a year, a cost borne by
every citizen through taxes and insurance premiums. The national rate of auto
theft is 56% higher than 20 years ago and is rapidly shifting away from being
a random act toward organized crime rings, as documented by Statistics Canada
and the RCMP.

    Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national trade association of the
private property and casualty insurance industry. It represents more than 90%
of the non-government home, car and business insurance in Canada. To view news
releases and information, visit the media section of IBC's website at
www.ibc.ca.





For further information:

For further information: Ellen Woodger, (416) 483-2358; or James
Geuzebroek, IBC, (416) 362-2031 ext. 4364


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