After SMV database integration, INTERPOL now detects 200 stolen vehicles from Canada each week

More than 1,500 vehicles stolen in Canada have been detected around the world since the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) successfully integrated the Canadian Police Information Centre’s (CPIC) stolen vehicle information with INTERPOL’s Stolen Motor Vehicle (SMV) Database in February 2024.

The RCMP’s CPIC database contains details on approximately 150,000 vehicles stolen in Canada. Since the integration, more than 200 of the stolen vehicles have been identified each week as their information is checked by law enforcement around the world, usually at national ports of entry.

Canada ranks among the top 10 countries in hits received via the SMV database this year, out of 137 countries connected worldwide.

INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said: “Stolen vehicles are international criminal currency. Not only are they used to traffic drugs, but also as payment to other criminal networks as well as fueling activities from human trafficking to terrorism. Sometimes overlooked, a stolen car is not just car theft. It is part of a major revenue stream for transnational organized crime. Through increased data sharing at the global level, we can better screen vehicles at border points, identify trafficking routes and arrest the perpetrators.”

INTERPOL’s SMV database allows police in the organization’s member countries to run a check against a suspicious vehicle and find out instantly whether it has been reported as stolen.

In 2023, around 226,000 vehicles were identified as stolen globally through the SMV database.

Joint vehicle crime project

In recent years, Canada has emerged as a key source country for stolen motor vehicles, in part given its large supply of sought-after high value models such as SUVs and crossovers. Many of the vehicles are shipped to the Middle East and West Africa, where they are then traded or re-sold.

On February 21, 2024, the Government of Canada announced that INTERPOL’s joint transnational vehicle crime project will receive $3.5 million (EUR 2.4 million) to enhance information sharing and investigative tactics to identify and retrieve stolen vehicles and parts around the world.

Officers check INTERPOL’s SMV database in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire during a ‘polycrime’ operation in which 65 stolen vehicles were recovered.

The project will see Canada increase cooperation and information-sharing with INTERPOL. It also provides for dedicated training sessions on the SMV database and the coordination of multi-country police operations specifically targeting vehicle crime in known hotspots and trafficking routes.

global INTERPOL operation in 2022, codenamed Operation Carback and coordinated across 77 countries, led to the recovery of hundreds of cars, trucks and motorbikes in just two weeks.

INTERPOL works with manufacturers and helps law enforcement agencies around the world to fight vehicle crime through a range of activities designed to increase their capacity.

Stolen Motor Vehicle Database

The INTERPOL Stolen Motor Vehicle (SMV) database is a vital tool in the fight against international vehicle theft and trafficking. It includes data on stolen cars, trucks, motorbikes, trailers, caravans, buses and their components.

Cars stolen in Europe have been found as far away as South America and Australia.

The SMV database allows police in INTERPOL member countries to run a check against a suspicious vehicle and find out instantly whether it has been reported as stolen. An international database of this nature is crucial as vehicles are often trafficked across national borders, sometimes ending up thousands of miles away from the location where they were stolen.

In 2023, around 74,917 motor vehicles were identified as stolen, thanks to the SMV database. Some 137 countries shared their national stolen vehicle data with INTERPOL and carried out more than 194 million searches.

Subsequently, INTERPOL helps member countries to dismantle the criminal networks behind vehicle crime through investigative support and global operations. The operations are preceded by training sessions to ensure that officers on the ground are equipped with a range of skills, including investigative techniques and the use of INTERPOL’s tools and databases.

Global Conference on Vehicle Crime

INTERPOL also convenes an annual global conference to address the rising theft of vehicles and the illicit trade in spare parts. The event acts as a forum for law enforcement, government, industry experts, private companies and international organizations to share their expertise in fighting vehicle crime.

Principal topics include an overview of traditional and new routes for car trafficking and links between vehicle crime and other forms of organized crime such as terrorism, drug trafficking and people smuggling.

The Fourth INTERPOL Global Conference on Vehicle Crime took place in Lyon from May 30 – June 1, 2023. It was co-organized by INTERPOL in collaboration with the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI).  Key recommendations highlighted at the forum include the need to update national records on stolen motor vehicles, extend access to INTERPOL’s global databases and set up partnerships to tackle the increasing threat of fraud.


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