The federal Liberals are trying to crack down on a scourge of auto thefts across the country, even as the government is struggling to keep its own vehicles away from thieves, new data show.

Documents tabled in the House of Commons on Monday show 48 government vehicles from 14 departments and agencies were stolen between January 2016 and February of this year.

Ministers are not immune, either. The official vehicle of the minister of justice was stolen three times in as many years between 2021 and 2023.

Ontario is the province where the largest proportion of vehicles were nabbed, including 10 in Ottawa, where most of the federal government is based, and two in the Toronto area.

Vehicles were also reported stolen in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Nunavut.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the number of vehicles in its fleet, the RCMP was hit the hardest. All told, 19 of its vehicles were taken, mostly in the Prairie provinces.

Parks Canada had seven vehicles stolen, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada reported four stolen and the Canada Border Services Agency and Indigenous Services Canada each had three taken.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which includes the Canadian Coast Guard, each saw two vehicles stolen.

And one vehicle was stolen from each of another handful of departments and agencies: the Canadian Revenue Agency, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, the Finance Department, Transport Canada and Global Affairs Canada.

The documents say of the four dozen stolen vehicles, two were stolen more than once and 34 have been recovered.

An Équité Association report prepared for a national auto theft summit organized by the federal government in February found more than 70,000 cars were stolen in 2023, based on an analysis of police data from across the country.

It found between 2021 and 2023, the number of stolen vehicles climbed 48 per cent in Ontario, 58 per cent in Quebec and 34 per cent in Atlantic Canada.

Police say while as many as one-third of stolen vehicles are being resold within Canada, a majority of stolen vehicles are ferried out of the country by organized crime rings, often in containers bound for Africa and the Middle East.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2024.