Tackling rising car thefts in Alberta

Published: June 26, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



Auto thefts in Alberta continue to be a problem and are even increasing despite the efforts of law enforcement agencies. Edmonton is of particular concern and a recent police success shows the scale of the problem.

Western Canada has become a major hot spot for stolen vehicles and parts and a recent raid in Edmonton resulted in over $2 million in stole car parts being recovered. Data from 2016 shows that auto thefts jumped 41% in the city during the year, with 4,865 total vehicles stolen.

Cars taken while the keys have been left in them is still a cause for many of the thefts. This essentially means many thefts do not have to happen. To address this, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has started an education program to warn motorists of the risk of leaving their keys in the car.

Outside of Alberta, in Saskatchewan, the province’s crown corporation insurance provider, SGI, has said it is considering fining motorists for leaving keys in a vehicle that is then stolen.

While opportunistic thefts are common, there are more organized networks at play. These crime rings are most responsible for the increase in car theft, according to Dan Service, director of investigative services for IBC.

“What we have in Alberta is an increase in stolen, unrecovered vehicles,” Service says. “With an over 100% increase from 2012-2016 in Alberta, what it clearly indicates is there is a group or groups that have moved into the province that are now stealing these vehicles and doing a number of things with them.”

The $2 million chop shop bust earlier in June has been described as the single biggest haul recovery of stolen auto goods in Alberta history.

“Brokers should know vehicles are absolutely available for theft when they are push button start vehicles,” Service added. “There was a contention for a period of time that push button start vehicles, as long as you had both keys, could not be stolen, but that’s not the case at all. There’s a variety of ways that key can be cloned, defeated or duplicated.”