Police say that they have increased patrols in several areas of the city, which have been the site of violent carjackings over the last few weeks.
The latest string of carjackings occurred Wednesday night when three separate victims had their vehicles stolen at gunpoint in the span of only two hours.
Earlier this week, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner also had his Range Rover stolen at gunpoint outside an Etobicoke movie theatre. He was uninjured in the incident.
All told, Toronto police say that there have been 93 carjackings reported through the first five months of 2022 compared to 103 during all of 2021. They say that 64 of those incidents have involved weapons and are being investigated by the hold up squad.
“We have dedicated special resources to look into these carjacking investigations and we have increased patrols in areas that have been targeted. We want to reassure the public that we have allocated our resources to ensure public safety,” Const. Alex Li told CP24 on Friday afternoon. “But we also want the assistance of community members. If you see something, say something. Anything suspicious, whether you see a suspicious type of vehicle or a group of people, give us a call and let us investigate the incident.”
Li said that in light of the violent incidents, drivers should remember to always keep their car doors locked when they are behind the wheel.
But he said that if approached by individuals intent on stealing their vehicle, confrontations should be avoided at all costs.
“Give up the vehicle, get to a place of safety and immediately call 911,” he said.
Toronto mayor has asked for help from other governments
Li’s comments on Friday come in the wake of Toronto Mayor John sending a letter to his federal and provincial government counterparts asking for help as the city deals with the rash of violent carcjackings, which he has previously likened to a “plague.”
In the letters, Tory said that there have been 93 carjacking incidents that have occurred in the city so far this year compared to just 21 at this time point in 2021.
Many of those incidents, he said, have “alarmingly” involved the use of weapons and or violence.
“This situation and the trend line cannot continue and I am writing to ask for your help,” he said. “I am confident that by working together in partnership, all three levels of government – together with the Toronto Police Service and other local police services in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area – can reverse the tide of increasing auto thefts.”
Tory had several specific asks in his letters.
He reiterated a request city council made of the provincial government in December to create an auto theft task force in partnership with municipalities and said that he would like the RCMP to partner with and provide support to that task force as required.
He also said that the Ontario government could provide additional resources to the Toronto Police Service to help deal with the “epidemic” of auto thefts.
Furthermore, he said that all three levels of government should partner together to explore “upstream solutions,” such as steps that can be taken on the assembly line.
“I look forward to the work we can do together on this important issue. We simply must act to obtain better results and I think that can best be done together,” he said. “The status quo is simply not acceptable for any of us.”
Crime expert shares tips on what to do if you are approached by armed thieves
In his letter, Tory pointed out that the rise in carjackings this year exceeds the increase in every other major crime indicator tracked by the Toronto Police Service.
Speaking with CP24 earlier in the day, crime expert Mark Mendelson said that carjackings may be on the rise because these thefts are easier than using technology to steal key fobs from inside a home to unlock parked vehicles.
“It's easier than being out in the middle of the night with a computer playing around in somebody's driveway. This is a much simpler way, albeit the car accidents that are showing up are pretty elaborate,” he told CP24 Friday morning.
“It's started and finished in thirty seconds and, you know, they don't care about witnesses driving by, it's not their problem,” he added.
Mendelson also shared some tips on how to protect yourself if you are targeted.
“If you see somebody coming towards your vehicle and you have a concern about it, whether it's two or three people, you'll lock the doors and you can set the alarm with your key fob. Make some noise, that's not what they want, they don't want to attract attention,” he said.
However, if there’s any threat to your safety Mendelson says to comply with demands and give up your vehicle.
“If you're going to be approached by people who are armed, give it up and let them have the car, it can be replaced. It's just not worth your life trying to protect this vehicle.”
Mendelson added that if you feel like you’re being followed, drive to a police or fire station and call the authorities.
“There's nothing wrong with pulling into the closest police station or fire station, hitting the car alarm, calling 911, making noise drawing attention. The police will not be annoyed if it turns out to be a false call. It's not a problem given what's going on out here now.”
If criminals attempt to steal your car with children inside, Mendelson says they will likely let you take the children out before taking the vehicle.
“I suspect that if they're going to carjack you when you want to get your child out of that car seat,that may not be a problem. That's a dilemma they don't want to face and hopefully nobody has to face that position,” he said.