TORONTO — There's been a "concerning increase" in carjackings in Toronto, city police said Tuesday as they detailed recent arrests and the search for more suspects in a number of investigations.
Insp. Rich Harris said there have been 182 carjackings reported in the city so far this year. There were 102 carjackings reported for all of 2021, he said.
"We continue to experience a concerning increase in carjackings. These robberies are not only happening in our city but are also taking place across the GTA," Harris said at a news conference on Tuesday.
"These types of crimes have a lasting impact on the victims."
Harris said uniformed and plainclothes officers are patrolling hotspots and making arrests, while a team has been dedicated to investigating carjackings.
In an update to a recent investigation, police said an 18-year-old woman had been arrested and faces multiple robbery charges related to two carjackings that happened on Aug. 19 and Sept. 10.
She was arrested on Sept. 29 and appeared in court the next day, and police said a second 18-year-old female suspect is also being urged to turn herself in.
Another 18-year-old man was arrested on Sept. 30 and faces armed robbery charges related to another carjacking from June. Police said a second suspect in that robbery has not been identified.
This spring, Toronto Maple Leafs player Mitch Marner was robbed of his vehicle by suspects allegedly armed with handguns.
Harris said people should give up their cars if they end up in a similar situation.
"Do not argue, do not fight. Your safety is worth far more than the vehicle," he said.
Auto thefts have been rising in the city over several years.
In a Toronto Police Service board meeting earlier this year, the service reported that auto thefts were up 58 per cent between 2017 and 2020 and up another 8 per cent in 2021 compared to 2020.
In 2021, about 80,000 vehicles were stolen across Canada, a one per cent increase from the previous year, according to Equite Association, an organization formed from the investigative branch of the Insurance Bureau of Canada and CANATICS, which analyzes auto thefts across the country.
The big targets were cars with push-button ignition systems, which are the vast majority of vehicles on the road, officials said. High-end cars were also targeted, but so too were reliable, abundant vehicles like Honda CR-Vs and Civics.
The Lexus RX350, the 2019-2017 models, were the top three stolen cars in Ontario in 2021, Equite said.
In Toronto, the Honda CR-V was the top car stolen last year, followed by the Lexus RX350.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2022.
Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press