Canada Border Services Agency mobile x-ray scanner sent to GTA in response to auto thefts

The Canada Border Services Agency has deployed a mobile x-ray scanner to help check shipping containers for stolen vehicles in response to soaring auto theft incidents.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has deployed a new, mobile x-ray scanning machine to the Greater Toronto Area as part of an effort to crack down on the soaring number of auto thefts.

Officials unveiled the $3.5-million unit during a news conference at the CBSA’s regional headquarters in Mississauga Sunday afternoon.

Authorities said in a statement the mobile x-ray unit was bought as part of a national plan to combat auto theft which partly relies on “non-intrusive inspection technology.”

“Auto theft is impacting Canadians, particularly in our urban centres. It increasingly involves organized crime groups, who are using the proceeds of those thefts to fund other illegal activities,” the statement said.

The statement didn’t provide details on how long the unit would remain in the Greater Toronto Area, where specifically it would be deployed and how often it would be used.

The announcement comes nearly three weeks after Peel Regional Police officers announced 369 stolen vehicles worth $33.2 million were recovered as part of Project Odyssey.

Deputy Chief Nick Milinovich said Peel Regional Police officers recovered more than 3,000 stolen vehicles in 2023.

“Organized criminal networks have recognized that stealing cars [is] low risk and high reward. In Peel, we have also recognized that and we are doing more in that space to make it higher risk and lower reward,” he said on May 27.

“Our community and our police service will not tolerate it and to be quite honest we’re tired of it.”

An analysis of police data from across the country found more than 70,000 cars were stolen last year, according to a report prepared by insurance fraud prevention group Équité Association for the federal government’s February summit.

It found that between 2021 and 2023, the number of stolen vehicles surged 48 per cent in Ontario, 58 per cent in Quebec and 34 per cent in Atlantic Canada.

Meanwhile, the Insurance Bureau of Canada paid out a record of around $1.5 billion in claims last year. Insurers have said the majority of vehicles are being stolen from Ontario and Quebec and exported through the Port of Montreal.

Police say while as many as one-third of stolen vehicles are being resold within Canada, a majority are ferried out of the country by organized crime rings, often in containers bound for Africa and the Middle East.

So far in 2024, CBSA officials said more than 1,300 stolen vehicles were found at ports and railyards and 452 of those vehicles were recoveredin the GTA.

With files from The Canadian Press

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