Ontario Premier Doug Ford has compared controversial auto theft advice from a Toronto police officer to welcoming Santa Claus at Christmas.

The premier was asked on Friday about a Toronto police officer who told residents to leave their car keys by the door to avoid home invasions.

The officer suggested “that people leave the keys to their vehicle in a faraday bag by the front door,” a statement from Toronto police on Thursday said.

“While well meaning, there are also other ways to prevent auto theft motivated home invasions,” it continued.

Asked about the comments at a photo opportunity in Barrie, Ont., Ford said he had to be “picked (up) off the floor” when he heard them.

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He then defended the officer who made them, who he said was a friend, calling him “one of the finest police officers in the country.”

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Const. Marco Ricciardi was heard making the comments at an Etobicoke community meeting. He said, “To prevent the possibility of being attacked in your home, leave your fobs at your front door.”

Ford said he couldn’t get his head around the advice and seemed to draw a parallel with leaving treats out on Christmas Eve.

“I just didn’t understand the answer,” the premier said. “We might as well leave cookies and milk at the front door along with a note. ‘Dear Mr. Criminal, the keys are in the mailbox, don’t kick my door in.’”

Global News approached both Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow and federal Minister of Public Safety Dominic LeBlanc for their reaction. Neither commented.

In Toronto, home invasions and break-ins for auto thefts rose 400 per cent last year, the Toronto Police Service said.

To the west, in Peel Region, vehicle thefts have been steady in 2024, with an average of 22 cars stolen daily.

Data maintained by the force shows almost 1,600 vehicles have been stolen since Jan. 1; just 41 of those cases have been solved.

Ontario’s solicitor general previously told Global News people have “realized it’s pretty easy to steal a car” in the province.

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“If the sea containers are not being inspected outbound at the Port of Montreal, for example, then it is quite easy for somebody to successfully steal a car…. It’s unacceptable,” Michael Kerzner said.

— with files from Global News’ Ryan Rocca

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