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Buying a car privately? Beware of stolen vehicles, Toronto police say

ONTARIO —As the demand for used cars rises, Toronto police are cautioning prospective buyers against the risks associated with purchasing vehicles privately. The alarming increase in car thefts has prompted authorities to address the issue of illegal car sales. In 2022 alone, the city reported a staggering 192% surge in vehicle thefts compared to 2015.

To combat the rising threat of car thefts and illegal sales, Toronto Police, the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC), and Toronto Crime Stoppers have collaborated to launch a campaign targeting fraudulent vehicle sales. This initiative aims to raise awareness about the presence of "curbsiders" in the private car sales market. These unregistered vendors often deal in stolen vehicles and engage in the buying and selling of used cars without proper licensing.

OMVIC's CEO, Maureen Harquail, pointed out that around 30% of private car sales in Ontario involve curbsiders. These individuals present themselves as private sellers but are operating illicitly for personal gain. The increase in curbsiding can be attributed to factors such as vehicle shortages, high car costs, and disruptions in the supply chain. Equite Association reported a concerning 48% rise in car thefts across Ontario in 2022.

Kelly Skinner, the acting deputy police chief of Toronto, stressed the importance of collective responsibility for community safety. Consumers considering private used car purchases are advised to acquire a used vehicle information package and exclusively engage with council-registered dealers. While OMVIC oversees regulated vehicle sales, private sales fall outside its jurisdiction.

In 2022, OMVIC took legal action against the issue by laying over 2,115 charges, including more than 1,000 against alleged curbsiders. However, the efforts of law enforcement and regulatory bodies alone cannot address this problem effectively. Sean Sportun, the chair of Toronto Crime Stoppers, emphasized the significance of collaboration between the police and the vehicle industry. He urged the public to report any information related to illegal curbside sales to assist in combating this issue.

With the demand for used cars continuing to grow, individuals seeking to buy second-hand vehicles should exercise caution. The prevalence of stolen vehicles in the private sales market underscores the importance of due diligence. As authorities work to clamp down on illegal vehicle sales, consumers are encouraged to follow proper channels and deal exclusively with licensed dealers to avoid falling victim to fraudulent transactions. The joint efforts of law enforcement and community members are crucial in ensuring a safe and secure used car market in Toronto and beyond.



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