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Toronto’s police chief says more than 12,000 vehicles were stolen across the city last year, a figure that equates to a car theft every 40 minutes.

Chief Myron Demkiw says the stolen cars have a value of $790-million.

There have also been 68 carjackings so far in 2024, which is a 106-per-cent increase compared to the same period last year.

Readers share their stories (and their tips) about auto theft

Chief Demkiw says that in a January incident, suspected thieves stole a vehicle from a grocery store parking lot with two children strapped in car seats inside, and drove around for 15 minutes before being stopped by police.

Chief Demkiw says he has notified the federal government that Toronto continues to be disproportionately impacted by organized crime, and that alleged criminals are increasingly using weapons to instill fear in their victims.

“This is not just a law enforcement problem,” he told a board meeting on Monday.

“It is time to be bold and collaborative with all levels of government, along with vehicle manufacturers, port authorities and shipping companies … We need manufacturers to better protect vehicles from being stolen and co-operate with investigators to track stolen vehicles so we can catch offenders quickly and return vehicles to their owners.”

Chief Demkiw says Toronto police recently launched a task force with provincial police to address car thefts and disrupt organized crime.

The unit has so far arrested 121 suspects, laid 730 charges and recovered 157 stolen vehicles.

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