Thank you very much. Thanks for inviting me here.
What am I doing here? My name is Ken Haywood. I was in the automobile business for a long time. Since I retired from the automobile business, I've been trying to do something about auto theft.
In 2005 I attended the IAATI, International Association of Auto Theft Investigators, training conference in New Orleans, just prior to Hurricane Katrina. Following that I attended a two-day session with NCRAT, the National Committee to Reduce Auto Theft, for which I prepared a position paper for presentation to a forum on auto theft made by Barry Ward, the president of NCRAT. Also in 2005, I attended a CCMTA, Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, auto theft session, followed by a session with North American Export Committee members.
Why am I telling you this? Because when I heard about this bill, Bill C-343, coming up, I thought I would use my resources and get the person who I felt was most informed about this, and that's Sergeant Tim Shields of IMPACT.
We've talked about the number of vehicles stolen. You're going to get this coming around to you. It shows the diversity of this. We've said that the material cost of auto theft is in the neighbourhood of $1 billion per year. The number of fatalities due to the theft of autos is hard to determine, but figures range from 20 to 40 per year. How does one put a dollar figure to that equation in auto theft? The cost of a death caused by stolen autos cannot be calculated.
Transport Canada considered the fatalities due to auto theft of significant meaning when they decided to make it mandatory that all new vehicles have immobilizers installed as of September 1, 2007. I believe that Bill C-343 is a start to reducing auto theft, as was Transport Canada's immobilizer ruling.
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, with the support of Project 6116 and the National Committee to Reduce Auto Theft, calls upon the Government of Canada, through the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General, to enact legislation creating a separate offence under the Criminal Code of Canada with respect to theft of a motor vehicle.
I heard from Staff Sergeant Jim Peebles of the Edmonton Police Service auto theft unit that their chief supports Bill C-343. I understand that other parties will be forwarding their expressions to the clerk.
The reason I chose Tim Shields is because he just finished a video called Stolen Lives, the story of how drugs and car thefts steal people's lives. We're going to try to get that out to members of the committee. In the meantime, I asked Tim, who spent I think four or five years in Surrey, and who has a knowledge of drugs....
He wrote me this:
I recently completed producing the documentary film Stolen Lives which examines the addiction of auto theft, and the tragedies in human loss that result. After interviewing dozens of car thieves and being involved in about 100 auto theft investigations in BC, I have learned the following:
1. The number of deaths resulting from stolen car crashes is much higher than reported. In British Columbia alone in 2005, 15 people were killed in stolen car related crashes. I obtained this number by manually reviewing every RCMP news release for the year.
2. Over 90% of auto thefts in BC do not involve organized crime groups. These vehicles are being stolen to help drug addicts commit other crimes or for joy riding.
3. Auto theft is an addiction. Many prolific offenders describe their addiction to auto theft as being even more powerful than their addiction to crystal meth or crack cocaine.The only way to stop this addiction is a long-jail term where treatment can be obtained.
4. Prolific offenders will do anything, including running innocent people down, in order to avoid arrest. They are usually prohibited drivers, high on crack cocaine, and they are behind the wheel of a 4000 pound speeding bullet. Auto theft poses a very real threat to public safety. Auto theft is a violent crime.
5. The charge of “theft of motor vehicle” is very difficult to prove. If an offender is arrested behind the wheel of a car that was stolen one day previously, he can only be charged with possession of stolen property. The charge of theft cannot be proven. If the wording of the proposed bill C-343 is used, the offender could not be charged with theft of a motor vehicle. Can the wording of the bill be changed to include “theft or possession of a stolen motor vehicle”?
I highly recommend that all committee members watch the 34-minute documentary Stolen Lives. This video highlights all the points that were just made. The auto theft issue is not just about stolen cars, it is about stolen lives.
I applaud the work that you are doing and I thank you for your efforts in making Canadians safer by moving forward with this bill.
Sergeant Tim Shields is now with the Kelowna RCMP. He is the executive director of Stolen Lives.
Thank you very much.