Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

MPI cuts subsidy to auto-theft unit

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The success of Winnipeg police's stolen-auto unit has cost it some money.

Manitoba Public Insurance has been subsidizing the cost of the stolen-auto unit since 2002, after the team was beefed up to deal with a skyrocketing theft rate that earned the city the title of "stolen car capital of Canada."

Funding the stolen-auto unit

The old deal

Since 2002, MPI has been paying the city about $800,000 annually to cover the cost of six constables and a vehicle forensics officer of the stolen-auto unit.

The new deal

MPI will cover the salaries and benefits of two constables and a data analyst. The deal is retroactive to March 1, 2014, and remains in effect until it is cancelled by either party with 60 days notice.

In addition to the staff paid for by MPI, the WPS stolen-auto unit will include six constables, one sergeant and one patrol sergeant.

Cost to MPI

First year $286,136

Second year $355,382

Third year$378,072

Fourth year $385,354

Fifth year$393,061

 

The success of the WPS has seen MPI drastically cut its funding for the unit.

MPI spokesman Brian Smiley said the stolen-vehicle rate in Winnipeg has plummeted 85 per cent between 2004 and today.

"The auto-theft unit is working," Smiley said, explaining why the public auto insurer moved to reduce its funding. "The number of stolen vehicles went from a daily average of 24-30 on a bad day, when this started, to two to four thefts a day now."

An administrative report to be presented to executive policy committee next week said the police will maintain its current compliment, but MPI is reducing the number of team members it will fund.

"MPI is absolutely committed to maintaining the battle against auto theft," Smiley said, adding if the theft rate were to increase, MPI would revisit the agreement.

The report states the WPS auto-theft unit will consist of eight constables, one sergeant, one patrol sergeant and a data analyst.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 12, 2014 A11

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