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Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 12.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The federal government said Wednesday it would spend an additional $15-million on law enforcement agencies working to combat auto theft.

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc made the announcement in Montreal flanked by Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez, RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme, Montreal police chief Fady Dagher and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante.

Of the amount pledged, $9.1-million will be extended to provincial, territorial and municipal police forces through a federal program to “increase their capacity to take custody of detained stolen vehicles from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA),” Mr. LeBlanc said.

Another $3.5-million will be given to the International Criminal Police Organization, commonly known as Interpol, to “enhance information sharing and investigative tactics to identify and retrieve stolen vehicles and parts around the world,” he said.

A link between Canadian authorities and Interpol was established on Feb. 13 and, since then, 24 countries have helped in checking on cars currently logged in the system, Mr. Duheme said. Next steps would involve collaborating with those countries to “put an end” to the demand for stolen vehicles, he said.

The remaining $2.4-million will serve to engage the federal government’s “domestic and international partners to ensure a co-ordinated response to this issue,” a news release detailing the announcement said.

Wednesday’s announcement adds to $28-million pledged earlier this month for the CBSA to increase its capacity to detect and search shipping containers for stolen vehicles and enhance collaboration on intelligence sharing.

The federal government held a summit on vehicle theft earlier this month and said it would examine potential legislative amendments to strengthen laws and review penalties related to this issue.

Auto theft in Quebec has risen by 57.9 per cent between 2021 and 2023, according to Équité Association, a not-for-profit organization that assists in insurance fraud and crime investigations. In Ontario, car theft grew by 48.2 per cent.

The Montreal police budget for 2024 is more than $821.5-million after an increase of nearly $100-million over the past two years. Mr. Dagher and Mr. LeBlanc were not able to say Wednesday how much of the new funding would be allocated to the Montreal police.

Both Mr. Dagher and Ms. Plante stressed the importance of fighting auto theft because of the potential for violence that police associate with it, citing recent instances of weapons confiscated during raids against vehicle thieves.

“In Montreal, we are talking about a scourge,” Ms. Plante said. “In three years, the number of stolen cars has gone from just under 5,000 to nearly 12,000,” she said, adding that vehicle theft affects not only individuals but also businesses, the tourism industry and the city’s reputation.

Mr. Dagher said the additional spending “will greatly help the police officers on the ground, especially for vehicle recoveries with the border services agency.” He said a raid on Wednesday morning led to the arrest of nine people accused of stealing 55 vehicles, 21 of which were recovered during the investigation. Police also seized two handguns during the raid.

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