Motor vehicles are an essential part of our day-to-day lives and are of high-value.

In recent years, Halton Region and beyond have experienced a dramatic rise in auto theft occurrences. The increases coincide with an ongoing global vehicle shortage brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, which made stealing them a lucrative revenue stream for organized crime.

What We Are Doing

Our Service (HRPS) is committed to addressing auto theft, and is devoting considerable resources to a multi-pronged approach, which includes response, education, partnerships and social development to combat it at home and beyond.


Response - In January 2023, we launched a Regional Auto Theft Task Force comprised of dedicated investigators from across the organization. In its first four months in operation, the team recovered almost 400 stolen vehicles, arrested more than 50 individuals, and laid almost 240 related criminal charges.

For the latest auto theft news and information, subscribe to receive media releases or follow us @HaltonPolice on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram. 

Education - Efforts are ongoing to educate members of the public on measures they can take to help prevent their vehicle(s) from being stolen. These include organizing town halls, as well as issuing targeted letters to owner of vehicles most at risk.

Partnerships - In recognition of the complex, transborder nature of auto theft, and to ensure the best response to it, we have – and continues to – partner with police agencies throughout Ontario, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and RCMP, all levels of government, with manufacturers, as well as with insurance bureaus.

Earlier this year, our Service joined law enforcement agencies and industry stakeholders at a national Auto Theft Summit aimed at strategically targeting auto thieves.

We have also launched Project Oxygen.

Project Oxygen, a partnership with automobile dealerships in Oakville, Burlington and Milton, encourages residents to place third-party trackers (such as an Apple Air Tag, Tile, Galaxy Smart Tag or Atuvos) inside their vehicles to increase its chance of being recovered in the event it is stolen. Read the Project Oxygen media release to learn more.

Social Development - We have also included auto theft as part of our educational outreach to youth in Halton schools who may be vulnerable to recruitment by organized car thieves.

By The Numbers

Figures released in our Service’s 2023 Annual Report revealed that in the past year alone, more than 1,700 vehicles were stolen.

  • 2023 – 1,701
  • 2022 – 1,167
  • 2021 – 765
  • 2020 – 466
  • 2019 – 481
  • 2018 – 461

Auto thefts chart

Please visit our Crime Map to see what's happening in your neighbourhood.

How It Happens

The three most common ways vehicles are currently stolen and re-sold is through reprogramming, revinning and/or carjacking.


In this most common type of auto theft, thieves target high-end, newer-model vehicles with keyless entry and push-start technology. The majority of these vehicles are parked in residential driveways and are taken during the overnight hours.

Reprogramming thefts occur when thieves take an image of an automobile’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) – which is visible through the front windshield – and pre-load it into a reprogramming device. Vehicles are then entered by force to access their diagnostic system/electronic control modules. Within minutes, thieves are able to reprogram a vehicle, activate its ignition, and drive off. Many of the vehicles are driven to the Port of Montreal or are loaded into cargo containers in Toronto and transported to Montreal by rail. The stolen vehicles are then shipped overseas for re-sale.


Re-Vinning involves changing a vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to a fraudulent/fabricated number to conceal the fact that it is had been stolen.

Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) administers and enforces the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, as well as relevant sections of the Consumer Protection Act on behalf of Ontario’s Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery (MPBSD). Its aim to protect the rights of consumers and ensure fair, honest, and open competition for registered motor vehicle dealers.

For steps you can take to help prevent and/or avoid falling victim when purchasing a pre-used vehicle, visit OMVIC: Buying a New or Used Cars in Ontario | Car Buying Tips


Carjackings involve the sudden and often violent theft of a vehicle while still occupied by the driver. Although these incidents can appear random, these violent thefts frequently occur in commercial areas, on streets and intersections, as well as parking lots where vehicles are stopped and vulnerable to potential carjackers. Once carjackers identify a vehicle, tactics used can include a quick "bump" of the vehicle in an effort to stage an auto accident and distract the driver. The blocking of a vehicle on a busy street or at an intersection to prevent the escape of a target vehicle or approaching a driver in a parking lot as they are in the process of walking towards or entering their vehicle.

See our Carjacking Postcard Postcard for tips on how to protect yourself from a potential carjacking.


There are a number of measures you can take to decrease the chance of losing your vehicles to auto theft:

  • Install an after-market GPS tracking device (this is currently the number one theft deterrent)

  • Park your vehicle in a locked garage
  • Block the exit of a potential target vehicle with a second vehicle parked behind it
  • Purchase and use a steering wheel lock device
  • Install an on-board diagnostic blocker/protector 
  • Install home security cameras on the exterior of the residence

You can also take steps to reduce the likelihood of purchasing a re-vinned vehicle:

  • Confirm the seller’s identity. Check the individual’s identification and proof of ownership.
  • Do your research. Order a vehicle history report before purchasing.
  • Avoid cash purchases. Issue a cheque to the registered owner.
  • Get the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic or manufacturer’s dealership before buying it. A re-vinned vehicle can be detected through inspection programs.
  • Don’t avoid taxes. Request a receipt that includes the seller’s information.
  • Carefully review the Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) that sellers must provide. Ensure all pages are enclosed.
  • Ask questions. How long was the vehicle owned? Are there maintenance records? Why are you selling?
  • Do not let anyone else register the vehicle for you.
  • Consider the price. If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

Tips provided by Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC)

Reporting Auto Theft

Help us help you. We need you to be our eyes and ears. 

Call 905-825-4777 if your vehicle is stolen or if you see suspicious vehicles or people (unfamiliar, unusual, loitering) in your neighbourhood.

Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers. "See something? Hear something? Know something? Contact Crime Stoppers" at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at

Call 911 if you witness a crime in progress.

Latest Information

For the latest auto theft news and information, subscribe to receive media releases or follow us @HaltonPolice on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram. 

Additional Information

Download a PDF version of these Vehicle Theft Prevention Tips.

Contact Information