Vehicle thefts are reaching a fever pitch in Guelph.
According to Guelph police, local vehicle thefts saw a 38.9 per cent jump year-over-year.
There were 275 vehicles taken last year, or an average of about 23 vehicles every month. By comparison, there were 198 thefts in 2021, 183 in 2020 and 204 in 2019.
"It’s very difficult to comment on any increases or decreases in certain types of crime, as there are many factors which can affect them," said police spokesperson Scott Tracey.
"With auto theft, for example, we will often see increases related to new technology used by thieves, and then that will level off as consumers become aware and take preventive measures."
He said the numbers can also be impacted by offender behaviour, such as one person repeatedly stealing vehicles ending up in custody for a period of time.
Weather, he said, can also be a factor.
"Anecdotally there seem to be more ‘warm-up’ type thefts in colder weather," Tracey said.
Looking at 2023, he said 25 vehicles were taken last month, and seven were taken in February.
The problem isn't localized to Guelph, though.
A report from HelloSafe, which tracks data from auto insurance companies, said almost 14,000 vehicle theft claims were registered in 2021 in Ontario, or one claim every 37 minutes.
The near 14,000 claims is a 28.4 per cent increase from 2020, when around 11,000 claims were filed.
Équité Association, which oversees insurance crime and fraud on behalf of the industry, said 2,083 Lexus RX series vehicles were taken in Ontario in 2021, nearly double the second highest target, the Honda CR-V (1,150).
The association said all high-end vehicles are targets, regardless of the manufacturer.
"Thieves continue to exploit technology through relay attacks and connecting to the on-board diagnostic port, which enables them to reprogram key fobs," it said in a release last fall. "Organized crime networks are stealing vehicles in greater volume for export internationally, with Montreal being the principal exit port for stolen vehicles."
As for the number of vehicles being recovered, Tracey said it's hard to track and produce an accurate number, as vehicles may not always be recovered in the same jurisdiction it's taken from.