Italian authorities made a large bust at a busy port and recovered 251 vehicles that had been stolen in Canada and were destined for markets in the Middle East, according to police.
The Port of Gioia Tauro is a key maritime facility in southern Italy and is one of the busiest transhipment hubs in Europe because of its location between the Strait of Gibraltar to the Suez Canal.
The vehicles had all been pinched from Canada over recent months, and were from a variety of “expensive” or “prestigious” brands, Italian police said.
With assistance from both the RCMP and Interpol, the stolen vehicles were found crammed inside containers that had arrived on 18 different cargo vessels – with “almost perfect” counterfeit identification data.
Italian authorities heralded “teamwork” with the RCMP, saying it’s that “synergy” that allowed the complex commercial investigation to quickly verify irregularities in entry declarations and license plates.
The Port of Gioia Tauro is a key maritime facility in southern Italy and is one of the busiest transhipment hubs in Europe because of it’s location between the Strait of Gibraltar to the Suez Canal.
Growing political issue
Car theft is becoming a political issue in Canada for all levels of government, with the federal Liberals recently announcing a national summit on the issue, which is aimed at getting provinces and industry officials together to address the growing problem.
The government warns that it’s organized crime that is profiting off of vehicles stolen on Canadian streets, which are ending up in the Middle East and Africa, or being used within Canada to commit crimes.
Some industry estimates state the rates of auto theft went up in Quebec by half in 2022 compared with the year prior and the Liberals say that police across the Greater Toronto Area have seen carjackings soar nearly 300 per cent since 2015.
Calls for better security standards
It’s also sparking calls within Canada for new standards that could make Canadian vehicles harder to steal in the first place.
In 2007, the federal government mandated installing immobilizers in new vehicles, which makes it difficult to steal a vehicle if the key is not detected — however, the anti-theft device that was the gold standard when it was introduced is now being bypassed.
The mass adoption of these new tactics has turned Canadian parking lots into a vulnerable gold mine for high-tech thieves.
However, experts warn there’s no silver bullet solution, it will require all levels of government working with industry stakeholders to stem the record-breaking crime spree.
With files from CTV News Toronto and the Canadian Press