stolen cars toronto

Toronto-area auto theft ring busted with almost 90 stolen cars

Nine have been arrested in the takedown of a major auto theft ring operating in and around Toronto, investigators recovering 88 stolen cars valued at upwards of $5 million, plus a haul of cash and various tools of the trade.

The recent bust by the York Regional Police (YRP) Auto/Cargo Theft Unit is part of an ongoing vehicle theft investigation called Project Crockpot, initiated back in June.

Cops identified nine suspects alleged to be stealing cars and shipping them overseas, ultimately executing search warrants across Toronto as well as in Quebec that resulted in 53 charges being laid.

Along with the dozens of recovered vehicles, police seized $300,000 in cash and tools used to reprogram cars electronically. 

YRP's press release on the arrests explains that "thieves have been using tools like screwdrivers to gain access to vehicles through the driver or passenger door, while ensuring not to set off alarms."

"Once inside, an electronic device, typically used by mechanics to reprogram the factory setting, is connected to a port below the dashboard and programs the vehicle to accept a key the thieves have brought with them," the YRP statement continues.

"Once the new key is programmed, the vehicle will start and the thieves drive it away."

The bust pulls back the curtain on just how many cars are being stolen in Toronto and York Region.

Car theft in Canada has been on a downward trend in the last two decades, but there is still an average of 232 vehicles stolen per day nationwide, and Ontario leads the country in reports of auto thefts.

The province almost cracked 24,000 car thefts in 2019 alone, and 1,384 of those happened in York Region. This number is 40.5 per cent higher than the 985 cars stolen in this neck of the 905 just one year earlier in 2018. Similarly, car thefts in Toronto increased from 3,208 in 2015 to 5,186 in 2019.

YRP is cautioning vehicle owners to take precautions like parking in a locked garage, as most of the vehicles stolen in the municipality were nabbed from driveways.

Other recommendations include using a steering wheel lock (remember the Club!?) and a data port lock to prevent reprogramming, along with home surveillance systems.

Arrests have been made, but the investigation continues. YRP is asking anyone with information to reach out to their Auto/Cargo Theft Unit at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 6651, and either call or visit the website for Crime Stoppers to leave an anonymous tip.

Lead photo by

York Regional Police

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