GOVERNMENT HOUSE LEADER JAY HILL INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO TACKLE AUTO THEFT AND PROPERTY CRIME

OTTAWA, April 21, 2009 ? The Honourable Jay Hill, M.P. for Prince George-Peace River, and Government House Leader, introduced legislation today in the House of Commons on behalf of Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to tackle property theft, including the serious crimes of auto theft and trafficking in property that is obtained by crime.

?The importing and exporting of stolen property, including automobiles, is far too lucrative for criminals,? said Minister Hill. ?Our Government is committed to cracking down on auto theft and ensuring that criminal organizations don?t continue to thrive in this country.?

Trafficking in stolen property, along with other for-profit criminal activities such as drug trafficking and fraud is a primary activity for organized crime. Auto theft impacts more individual Canadians and businesses than any other form of property crime. The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates that auto theft costs Canadians more than $1 billion every year, taking into account health care, court, policing, legal and out-of-pocket costs, such as insurance deductibles.

This bill is aimed at tackling property crime in general, but in particular the serious crime of auto theft which often involves organized crime. The legislation proposes to give our law enforcement authorities and the courts better tools to fight this kind of crime. It would:

Create a separate offence of ?theft of a motor vehicle?, which would carry a mandatory prison sentence of 6 months for conviction of a third or subsequent indictable offence; establish a new offence for altering, destroying or removing a vehicle identification number (VIN). Make it an offence to traffic in property obtained by crime; and make the possession of such property for the purpose of trafficking an offence.

Additionally, these amendments would provide for the application of customs powers to allow the Canada Border Services Agency to identify and prevent stolen property from leaving the country, thus providing a means to address the problem of the exportation of stolen vehicles from Canada by organized crime.

?This Bill is another important pillar in this Government?s fight against organized crime in Canada,? said Minister Hill. ?I hope the opposition parties will finally stand with the Government to ensure the safety of our communities.?

An online version of the legislation is available at www.parl.gc.ca.