Darlene Devenyi of Ridgeville has heard it straight from the mouths of police officers: many auto thieves pay their bail, and are right back on the street again, stealing more vehicles. She has sent a petition to Niagara West MP Dean Allison appealing for stiffer penalties for auto theft. Allison has agreed to read it to his colleagues in Parliament, once Devenyi has secured 25 signatures supporting her request. A link to the petition is below.

As to her motivation for the request , Devenyi says she had a truck stolen out of her back yard about five years ago, but the real catalyst was the death of her friend Earl Clapp last month in what appeared to be a botched trailer theft.

Her petition reads:

“Whereas individuals who recently committed trespassing and theft who were confronted by a homeowner and ultimately and directly caused the death of the homeowner, we the undersigned citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons and the Government of Canada, to review the laws related to trespassing and theft in order to determine that a more severe punishment to further deter individuals from committing such theft is needed. As trespassing and theft are premeditated, these crimes should receive proportionate punishment.”

The Canadian Criminal Code currently specifies a maximum of 10 years incarceration for auto theft. The mandatory minimum sentence is six months in jail, but that is only upon a third conviction. On a summary conviction with no jury trial, the maximum incarceration is for 18 months. Fines of $5000 may be levied in addition to or instead of prison time.

Constable Phil Gavin of the Niagara Regional Police (NRP) told the Voice that auto thefts in the Region have not seen any particular spike this year, with 693 thefts registered to date, 18 of which occurred in Pelham. NRP website data indicated that in 2019, Niagara had 764 auto thefts, down from 842 the previous year.

According to a 2018 Statistics Canada report, Brantford has the dubious honour of being number one in car thefts in Ontario, at 546 thefts per 100,000 people. London, Windsor, Hamilton, and Thunder Bay follow, with St. Catharines/Niagara Falls earning sixth place. Some 24,000 vehicles were stolen in this province last year.

Winnipeg has the reputation of being the auto theft capital of Canada, which, according to police, is due to a subculture of teenagers who habitually steal cars and drive them recklessly. In some cases, innocent motorists and bystanders are killed.

The insurance Bureau of Canada’s website states that automobile theft costs Canadians close to $1 billion annually, including $542 million for insurers to fix or replace stolen vehicles. Ford F-350 and F-250 4×4 trucks, and Lexus and Land Rover SUVs, are the most stolen vehicles. A car or truck is stolen in Canada every six minutes.

Needless to say, drivers of F-250s in Brantford can expect to see steep insurance rates. It’s all about risk assessment.

Those interested in signing Devenyi’s petition may find it at:


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