Canadian Auto Theft Guidance Flops

Toronto Police Unit
Toronto Police Unit | Image by Rene Johnston/Getty Images

A Canadian police officer’s recommendation that people leave their car keys at the front door for would-be thieves has raised some eyebrows online.

In 2023, residents of Toronto faced a 400% rise in home invasions and auto theft-related break-ins.

“To prevent the possibility of being attacked in your home, leave your fobs at your front door because they’re breaking into your home to steal your car. They don’t want anything else,” said Toronto Constable Marco Ricciardi during a town hall discussion on public safety earlier this year, according to CityNews.

“A lot of them that [police are] arresting have guns on them, and they’re not toy guns, they’re real guns. They’re loaded,” Ricciardi added.

Toronto police followed up with a news release, referring to Ricciardi’s advice to put keys to their vehicles in a Faraday bag by the front door as “well-meaning” but provided what they referred to as “better” tips for avoiding violent confrontations with criminals, ranging from installing security cameras to putting security film on glass windows and doors.

“Police are concerned about an escalation in violence, where all sorts of weapons and firearms are being used to steal vehicles, and that includes during home invasions,” the news release read.

Yet comments from social media users on X suggest that the public was dissatisfied with such guidelines.

“[I] leave my front door wide open so the thieves don’t have to kick it down,” quipped one X user on the Toronto police’s post.

Another user asked, “Is this a parody account?”

Some were more overtly critical of both the police force’s efforts to fight crime and the country’s strict anti-gun laws.

“How about actually being able to defend your property. I imagine next you will ask us to leave our front door unlocked and a glass of milk and a sandwich out for the thieves,” wrote one user.

Crime data from Toronto police shows that 12,235 motor vehicle thefts were reported in 2023 — a 24.7% increase from the year prior. Breaking and entering incidents saw a similar spike, increasing by 25.3% to 7,642 incidents.

By comparison, Dallas — a city whose population of 1.2 million is dwarfed by that of Toronto (2.9 million) — clocked 18,847 motor vehicle theft reports that same year, according to the City’s crime analytics dashboard. This was a 40.6% rise from the year prior.

The Dallas Police Department has labored against a staffing shortage, with just 3,000 officers deployable in the field despite a City report calling for a force of 4,000. This isn’t likely to be resolved anytime soon, given that City leaders opted to allocate just $654 million to DPD this fiscal year, spending considerably less on public safety than other high-crime jurisdictions, including New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

More broadly, Dallas County’s District Attorney’s Office — headed by John Creuzot — has been criticized for policies some describe as being “soft on crime.” For instance, the DA received considerable backlash after instituting a no-prosecution policy for thefts valued under $750, which he subsequently rescinded, as covered by The Dallas Express.

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