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Ontario Drivers Looking at New Measures to Deter Car Theft

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Ontario drivers have been turning to retractable bollards to prevent car theft from their property, according to local business owners.

Vehicle owners in Canada have been dealing with escalating levels of auto theft over the past few years. Interpol stats show more than 200 stolen Canadian vehicles have been found around the globe each week since February.

Interpol’s database, which collects information from 137 countries, shows that Canada ranks among the top 10 countries for vehicle theft.

Managing director of Ontario Bollards, Danny Zanchi, said he has watched the product grow in popularity since 2013. Bollards are short, sturdy, vertical posts installed in the ground at set intervals designed to increase security.

“I just had one of our customers for the year say ‘We hired private security for our neighbourhood,’” Mr. Zanchi told The Epoch Times in a phone interview. “He says now the … topic of discussion is Ontario Bollards security. So they’re getting quite big.”

He said he has heard other security companies looking at implementing bollards for additional safety.

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“Canada is not a safe haven like it used to be when we first started,” he said.

Bollards have been used in European countries for several years, Mr. Zanchi said. No longer static posts, they can be retractable to allow vehicles to get in and out of driveways.

Costco has also recently begun selling Ontario Bollards products in stores around the province.

“Costco approached us,” Mr. Zanchi said. “I think they just had foresight more than anybody else.”

He said he heard from customers about bollards preventing vehicle theft.

“We had other videos shared with us, where they had the proper installation of the bollards … where they actually can see the guys pulling up, looking at it, and they’re looking at the bollards. They realize that there’s no way they can get the car out and they don’t even bother.”

He said bollards have proven to be a better theft deterrent than other products available.

“We just had the right product at the right time,” said Mr. Zanchi.

The story is familiar to Stephan Bordun, the co-founder of Bollard Boys GTA.

“I’d say almost half of our inquiries are people on a reactive measure, and then the other 50 [percent] is people proactively looking for a solution against it,” he told The Epoch Times in a phone interview.

Mr. Bordun said there are a variety of bollards on the market, including ones that retract through the use of an app.

“It’s a concept that’s been proven and been utilized in other parts of the world for quite some time,” he said. “We’re just kind of late to the party.”

Government Measures

The federal government recently announced legislation in an effort to curb the growing problem of vehicle theft, including legislative and regulatory changes that include tougher penalties for auto theft under the Criminal Code.

The government is also looking to change the Radiocommunication Act to regulate the sale, distribution, and importation of radio devices used by thieves.

Ottawa said it is also introducing tougher penalties for suspects who involve minors in crimes.

Some provinces are also reacting to the issue with new measures. Ontario announced its plan last month to introduce legislation that would see driver’s licence suspensions for those convicted of vehicle theft.

For a first offence, there will be a 10-year licence suspension, a 15-year suspension for a second offence and those who are convicted three times will face a lifetime suspension.

Licence suspensions would apply to convictions where the court found that aggravating factors were involved in the commission of the offence, such as violence, use of a weapon, use of force, threat, or pursuit of financial gain, the government said.

The province also said it is investing $18 million over three years to help police services combat and prevent auto theft.

The president of the Canada Border Services Agency said in May the agency had intercepted more than 1,200 vehicles in railyards and marine ports.

Additionally, the federal government has invested $28 million to detect and search shipping containers for stolen vehicles, as well as $15 million to help law enforcement combat auto theft.

Équité Association, a not-for-profit, national organization that deals with Canadian property and casualty insurers said that between 2021 and 2023, auto theft increased by 48.2 percent in Ontario, with Quebec seeing a 57.9 percent increase in the same time period. Atlantic Canada saw a 34 percent increase while western Canada saw about a five percent increase.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada said auto theft claims across the country have increased 254 percent between 2018 and 2023. In Ontario, auto theft claims increased by 524 percent during that same period.

Vehicle theft losses were more than $1.5 billion in 2023, nearly 20 percent higher than in 2022.

The Canadian Press contributed to this article. 

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