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



    VANCOUVER, 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 Lindsay Olson, Vice-President, British Columbia and Yukon, IBC. "It
recognizes that auto theft is a violent offence and should be treated as
such."
    She 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.
    Olson 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 British Columbia
know all too well. We've all seen the media reports of British Columbians,
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 34,800 motor vehicle thefts occurred in British
Columbia, including more than 21,340 in the city of Vancouver alone. Overall,
British Columbia has the second-highest rate of vehicle theft in the country.
    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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