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‘We’re coming after you’: Toronto police detail results of major car theft probe

April 26, 2023  By The Canadian Press

Apr. 26, 2023, Toronto, Ont. – Toronto police have recovered more than 550 stolen vehicles worth an estimated $27 million, including many that were bound for sale overseas, during an ongoing auto theft investigation launched last year.

The investigation called Project Stallion began in November 2022 in response to the doubling of Greater Toronto Area vehicle thefts since 2019, Toronto police said Tuesday.

The probe has led to the recovery of 556 stolen vehicles, police said, adding that the 119 people arrested are facing a total of 314 charges.

“This is a very large recovery… but I can tell you we’re not stopping here,” Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner told reporters. “A message for the criminals: We’re coming after you.”

Det. Sgt. Peter Wehby said the spike in auto thefts is not exclusive to the GTA. “This is a now provincial, national and even international problem.”

Each of the vehicles was recovered within the Toronto area and many were bound for the Port of Montreal. From there, Wehby said they can be shipped to markets overseas and sold well above retail price.

Several of the stolen vehicles were recovered thanks to owners’ tracking devices, including Apple Air Tags left in their cars, said Taverner. GPS tracking of one stolen car led to the recovery of 30 others from a shipping container facility, he said.

“It’s a real business for these criminals… There needs to be something in place where the owners of these containers have to report what’s in their containers. None of that is currently done,” said Taverner.

“For the most part, (the accused) go to court, are seen for a property crime and end up with little or no real sentence,” he added.

Many of those arrested worked together in small, isolated cells, police said.

“Organized crime groups have created a demand for these vehicles which at times results in violent crimes,” Wehby told reporters.

Taverner stressed the detrimental impact surging car thefts were having on Toronto.

“It can compromise individuals and their well-being. Particularly if you’re a victim of a carjacking, the trauma from that event can be serious and long-lasting,” he said.

About 9,500 cars were stolen throughout Toronto last year.

“That’s an enormous number of cars and an enormous number of people that are outraged at what’s happening,” said Taverner.

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