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Winnipeg Police Service

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About the Service > Stolen Auto Unit

The Winnipeg Police Stolen Auto Unit (SAU) which is a part of Division 43 consists of 16 members in total. Members assigned to this unit work a variety of shifts during days, evenings, and nights. The unit includes one Sergeant, three Detective Sergeants and twelve plainclothes investigators, ten of those being assigned to general auto theft. General auto theft includes theft for transportation, theft to commit other crimes, and thrill-seeking. The other two plainclothes investigators are assigned to Commercial auto theft and handle investigations such as thefts for profit such as chop shops, fraud related offences, and vehicle VIN (vehicle identification number) tampering to name a few. Six positions in the Stolen Auto Unit are funded though an agreement started in 1997 between Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) and the Winnipeg Police Service to specifically address general auto theft. In June 2007, five additional members were added as a result of funding by the Province of Manitoba.

The Stolen Auto Unit is heavily involved in the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy (WATSS). This Strategy is the most effective approach undertaken by the Stolen Auto Unit to date and efforts by all of the partnering agencies involved have created dramatic reductions in auto theft. The Stolen Auto Unit has been successful by focusing on the highest risk auto thieves. The SAU primarily targets over 100 Level 4 (high risk) and Level 3 (medium risk) Offenders. Primary duties include:

  • The apprehension of Wanted high risk offenders. The goal is to quickly apprehend these offenders and return them to custody when Warrants are issued for their arrest. These offenders present a significant risk to public safety.

  • Detection of new offences. This includes finding new auto theft offences as they are being committed and conducting curfew checks to ensure offenders are complying with the conditions of their court orders. In 2010, a new charge specific to the theft of motor vehicles was created being Criminal Code Section 333.1.

  • Follow-up investigations, proactive projects, and a support role for uniform divisions of the Service.

The Stolen Auto Unit has been supported by the Winnipeg Police Service Executive and Commanders in each of the five uniform divisions with the goal of combating auto theft city wide. The Stolen Auto Unit receives an invaluable amount of help from uniform division members by finding thefts being committed, making arrests, providing intelligence, and assisting with late-night curfew checks. The fight against auto theft in Winnipeg is Service-wide and includes several specific initiatives. The Winnipeg Police Service and the Stolen Auto Unit view auto theft as a serious public safety issue and not simply a property crime.

For more related information, visit the Auto Theft Prevention pages.


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Last update: February 17, 2015

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