Organized Auto Theft

man breakinginto vehicle

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The Organized Auto Theft Section (OATS) investigates vehicle, trailer, cargo and heavy equipment thefts for profit because of the suspected involvement of a criminal network. The OATS is also responsible for examinations of vehicles to determine their true identity in cases where its identity is in question including arson, recovered stolen vehicles and vehicles which have had some of their identifiers removed, altered or obliterated.

Vehicle theft is not only property crime.  People feel violated and victimized as they realize someone has been on their property and has stolen their vehicles which contain their personal items. We are all affected as insurance companies re-coup their losses by increasing insurance rates.

In cases where an organized crime component is identified, the investigation becomes the responsibility of the Organized Auto Theft Section.  We work in partnership with other police agencies and with the Insurance Bureau of Canada to dismantle criminal networks that operate in Ottawa and beyond.

Prevention Tips

Buyer beware! Purchasing a vehicle through an Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) dealer consumers enjoy a level of protection relating to the transaction. The benefits of purchasing from an OMVIC dealer are well documented at the OMVIC website. However, if you choose to purchase a vehicle from a private seller the OMVIC offers tips for buying a car privately

If the deal looks too good to be true it probably is. Know that if you are found to be in possession of a stolen vehicle it will be seized as stolen property by the police and returned to its rightful owner. The seizure of a vehicle can often create a second victim. In cases involving the unwitting purchase of a stolen vehicle, the purchaser is deprived of the vehicle and the monies paid for it once the police or other law enforcement agency seizes the vehicle.

Vehicle owners can take measures in an effort to reduce the likelihood of their vehicle being stolen. 

In cases where a vehicle thief is selecting the vehicle to steal, without a particular vehicle predetermined, anti-theft devices such as car alarms, steering wheel locking devices such as "The Club", and electronic immobilizer devices, can act as a strong deterrent for a theft of opportunity. 

Vehicle owners can consider vehicle etching as another form of protection from having their vehicle stolen. Etching increases the likelihood of the vehicle and/or its parts being identified and/or recovered by Police, and as such can also serve as a potential deterrent. GPS tracking units have become increasingly popular and some allow the vehicle owner to electronically "fence-in" their vehicle whereby an alarm cue would occur if the vehicle were to leave the fenced-in area without authorization.

Make your vehicle less vulnerable to theft by parking it in a locked garage and or blocking it in tightly with a second vehicle.

Do not leave the vehicle running while unattended.

Be vigilant that no one has tampered with the door locks mechanisms.

If you are selling your vehicle, be wary not to let anyone have access to your car keys or your vehicle out of your sight. This prevents a thief from copying your key during a “test drive” so they can return later to steal it.

The onus is on the registered owner of a vehicle to ensure that the person they let drive their vehicle has a valid driver’s license.  As such, request to see their driver’s license prior to allowing them to test drive your vehicle. This gives you an opportunity to note the person’s identity.  Further to that, note the licence plate and vehicle description of any individuals who attend your home to enquire about a car for sale.

Finally, good old fashioned neighbourhood watch is a great deterrent.  Call 911 to report any suspicious activity; be vigilant.