Car thieves more violent with no fear of jail, says Halton police chief


Published November 15, 2023 at 4:05 pm

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Brazen car thieves who don’t fear repercussions have become more violent, says the chief of Halton Regional Police.

As auto thefts soar in Burlington, Oakville and Milton, Chief Steve Tanner told local politicians today (Nov. 15) that thieves are not deterred by the legal system because they know they won’t be spending much time behind bars if they get caught.

As a result, the police chief said armed bad guys turn to violent tactics such as home invasions as well as using stolen vehicles to ram police cruisers and take a run at officers when they are confronted.

“These vehicles are being used against the police officers if they try to stop them,” Tanner told a Halton Region budget meeting. “I can’t count the number of cars that we’ve had rammed by people driving stolen cars because there is nothing to lose if they can get away.”

He also pointed to three recent incidents in Ontario where Ontario Provincial Police officers were struck while trying to stop stolen vehicles.

Tanner said thieves will use aggressive tactics to escape knowing that officers will give up the chase if it puts the public at risk.

“As long as they think they can do whatever they want to get away they will keep on doing it,” he said.

Also, the chief said the courts are treating the auto thefts as victimless property crimes which steer the culprits away from paying a heavy legal price.

“As long as the courts view auto theft as a property crime…that there is no real victim…then sentences are not going to be significant enough to be any sort of a deterrent,” Tanner said. “Judges have to be in tune with the reality of the risk (of turning offenders loose).”

Oakville Ward 7 Regional Councillor told the meeting that a stronger message has to be sent to senior levels of government that the public doesn’t want to see suspects turned back onto the streets the same day they are arrested.

She said police are also venting their frustration knowing that their hard work in solving crimes and making arrests often lead to immediate freedom.

“Frustrated officers say they are repeatedly arresting the same people,” she said adding that when someone gets arrested for something serious they should have to stay in jail, and not be granted instant bail.




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