Canadian police announced this week that, following a multi-jurisdictional investigation, they have charged 28 people with 242 offenses related to a vehicle theft and resale ring in the province of Ontario.
According to the CBC, Ontario Provincial Police have recovered 214 vehicles, which together are worth an estimated $12 million ($9.36 million USD at current exchange rates). The recovered vehicles were a Lamborghini Urus, an Acura NSX, an Audi RS6 Avant, a Honda Civic Type R, a Ford F-150 Raptor and several other sought-after models. Police say vehicles made by Honda and Acura account for 37 percent of all stolen cars.
The Police Service partnered with a number of other crime enforcement agencies within the province of Ontario and Saskatchewan, working together on a team code-named Project MYRA to bust the ring since 2020.
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The team said it has uncovered an auto theft network that fraudulently modifies Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) to facilitate transfer of stolen vehicles through subsequent private sale. Among those charged with the crime were employees of Service Ontario (who perform several services similar to a US DMV) who are accused of aiding in illegal registration of vehicles.
Police have identified three criminal organizations as being part of this big gang of car thefts. Two groups based in municipalities around central Toronto are accused of rebranding the vehicles, one with a particular focus on high-end models.
The third organization was responsible for fraudulently registering stolen vehicles in Saskatchewan, transferring documents to Ontario, registering vehicles in the new province, and then reselling them to other individuals, including criminal networks.
In addition to the recovered vehicles, police also seized six firearms, 230 g (8.1 oz) of suspected fentanyl, 1.8 kg (3.9 lb) of suspected cocaine, 77 kg (170 lb) of suspected cannabis, 150 g (5.2 oz). Suspicious Cannabis Resin, 10 g (0.3 oz) Suspicious Magic Mushroom, $8,400 in US currency, $160,000 in Canadian currency ($124,801 USD), two money counters and two laser marking machines.
Individuals accused of participating in this crime ring face charges related to the Criminal Code, the Cannabis Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. After the arrest, five accused were taken into custody. The rest were released and are due to appear in court on different dates in July and August.
Those wishing to buy used cars are being advised to be cautious while buying vehicles through private sale. Police recommend that they suspect any seller who will not provide identification or other documents.