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Support grows in Simcoe County for proposed tougher penalties on auto theft

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The Ford government's proposed legislation aimed at imposing lengthy driving licence bans on auto thieves is receiving support from some Simcoe County officials.

Details of the proposed legislation were announced Tuesday morning by Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria and Solicitor General Michael Kerzner and would see a 10-year driver's licence suspension to a first conviction of auto theft that involved violence, use of weapon, force, or where the theft was motivated by financial gain.

The suspension could extend to 15 years for a second offence and a lifetime driving ban on a third.

Barrie Mayor Alex Nuttall told CTV News he is all for the province's efforts to crack down on this type of crime.

"I think part of the problem that we're facing as a society, whether it's on this issue of auto theft or other offences, is that the follow through from the justice system just isn't there today," Nuttall said. "If we can find new ways to enforce and deter these types of actions and show there will be a strong reaction to that type of theft, hopefully, the individuals that are doing this will see the light and jump on to earning their living in an honest way."

Nuttall said the impact of auto theft, which has seemingly moved north from the GTA at an exponential rate over the last several years, is profound on residents.

"The impact on those individuals who are trying to work, trying to take their kids to school, to take their kids to daycare, that type of thing, is something they shouldn't have to live with," he added. "If you're willing to take someone's vehicle and drive it around illegally on the streets, you probably shouldn't have a licence."

Bradford West Gwillimbury Mayor James Leduc agreed in a statement to CTV News, noting he "supports the province in their proposed legislation for stricter penalties to combat auto theft."

Barrie police refused to comment directly on the proposed legislation but said it is "supportive of any efforts to improve traffic safety and reduce auto thefts."

In the legislation that will be tabled Thursday, the provincial government will also toughen penalties for street racers. A first conviction could come with a mandatory driver's licence suspension of at least a year. On a third conviction, a driver could lose their licence for good.

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