Ontario Premier Doug Ford is calling for tougher penalties and bail requirements for criminals accused of stealing vehicles using increasingly brazen means.

"They've gone from carjacking and stealing cars in the middle night to kicking people's doors in, and that's when you cross the line," Ford said when asked about the rise in auto thefts.

He said he wants the federal government to boost the number of Canadian Border Services officers on the front lines to deal with the border aspect of vehicle thefts, and added that more needs to be done to make sure that offenders are not freed quickly.

"Just imagine you're lying in bed and your door being kicked in. That's terrifying, actually," Ford said.  "And they're gonna kick the wrong person's door in one day, and then there'll be a price to pay. But these criminals need to go to jail and the JP'S out there, justices of the peace – nothing is more frustrating to myself or police officers than we arrest these bad guys, you slap them on the wrist, and you'll let them out the next day just to go out and steal other cars.

"It's your duty as a justice of the peace to keep these guys locked up behind bars. As long as you possibly can. Bottom line, you need to do it."

The event was held to highlight Mississauga’s share of a previously announced provincial program to combat vehicle theft. The Preventing Auto Theft grant is providing $18 million to help fund 21 projects over three years, with the aim of bolstering efforts to combat vehicle thefts.

Ontario has seen a surge in auto thefts over the past few years, with a 72 per cent increase from 2014 to 2021. According to the province, a vehicle is stolen in Ontario every 14 minutes.

Thieves and criminal networks have specifically targeted the Greater Toronto Area, according to the province, with Toronto seeing an 81 per cent increase in auto theft for 2014 to 2021 and a 78 per cent increase in violent carjackings from 2021 to 2022.

Mississauga Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah spoke alongside Ford Friday and said there are multiple reasons for the drastic increase, including the post-COVID supply chain problems and chips shortages for new vehicles as well as increasingly sophisticated and aggressive theft tactics.

"Right now the risk-reward for stealing a vehicle and the effortless ability to get it on a cargo container or get it fraudulently resold here domestically or use for other criminal activity is so great, and within minutes, it's gone," Duraiappah said. "The fact that people are aware that it's that easy, and that you know, it is seen at the lowest level as just the theft of a property is part of the issue. It is actually funding, right behind drugs and fraud, as the largest source of organized crime internationally."