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Alberta MP outlines Conservative plan for fighting vehicle theft

CPC Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen says vehicle theft has skyrocketed under Liberal regime
Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen.
Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen.

The Liberal government's revisions to the country's bail system are having a domino effect, increasing several categories of crime statistics.

One of those dominos is vehicle theft, and the Canadian Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) believe they have a plan to see a decrease that will help combat vehicle theft and potentially all areas of crime.

"One of the side-effects of the new bail system, which [the Liberals] brought in 2017, is the dramatic increase in car theft," Peace River — Westlock CPC MP Arnold Viersen told the Town & Country This Week, Feb. 23.

In an accompanying media release, he stated that in the eight years the Liberals have been in government, vehicle thefts have increased by a third, adding that over 20,000 vehicles were stolen in 2022, many of which were pickups, noting Ford F150s and Dodge Ram 1500s were especially popular with thieves.

"Car theft has been a challenge for our community ever since I was first elected in 2015 and probably a lot longer," he said, adding people from across the riding have told them their stories of the hardships they faced because their vehicles were stolen.

"A stolen car means losing transportation to and from work, replacing expensive tools, and lost salary. It can also result in missed doctor appointments and important life events."

Viersen added that crime and vehicle theft were initially discussed as a rural issue, but it is "a wash across the country", including in the major urban centres.

In Toronto, he said, vehicle theft is up over 300 per cent from 2015, and 100 per cent in Montreal, adding that Vancouver has also seen a similar increase.

Viersen added via the release that Canadian ports have turned into parking lots for stolen cars and that auto theft has become a "get-rich-quick" scheme for violent criminals and gangs.

"The result is people across the country are seeing higher insurance rates and are feeling less safe."

Viersen said to combat vehicle theft, the CPC is proposing to eliminate the ineffective and expensive Canadian Border Agency consultants, create a specialized border agent team and equip them with state-of-the-art x-ray equipment to rapidly scan export containers to help recover stolen vehicles before they leave the country and propose to increase the minimum for vehicle theft from six months to six years after their third conviction.

He added that the CPC would revert the bail system to the one before 2017, so repeat offenders don't get bail, and reverse the onus to where the accused have to prove why they should get bail. 

"Right now, bail is almost guaranteed for everybody, and we know that relatively few individuals are committing most crimes," Viersen said.

He referred to the example in Vancouver, where 40 individuals are responsible for over 6,000 police interactions.

Barrhead vehicle theft

In Barrhead, in the fourth quarter of 2023, the RCMP received 17 vehicle theft complaints.

Interim Barrhead RCMP Detachment commander Cpl. Filipe Vicente, at a Feb. 6 County of Barrhead council meeting, stated police were starting to see an increase in vehicle theft due to the colder weather and people leaving their cars unlocked and running.

"It often goes in waves," he told the Town & Country in an Feb. 23 interview. "Often, it is because we have a prolific offender, and for a few months, we will have a lot of vehicles being stolen and when they are put behind bars."

As for what the stolen vehicles are being used for, he said, for the most part, they find that offenders are stealing to use in other criminal activities, such as copper theft, break-and-enters or for short-term transportation.

"The last time we had a rash of stolen vehicles, we would often recover them back in Barrhead, not overly damaged, with just an ignition punched out," Vicente said.

Barry Kerton,

Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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