160 stolen vehicles recovered valued at $10 million in the GTA

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Published June 24, 2023 at 10:03 am

Police have released a video and several photos, after recovering 161 stolen vehicles across the GTA with a total value of more than $10 million, destined for the Middle East and Africa.

Following a month-long investigation, the York Regional Police Auto/Cargo Theft Unit with the assistance of the ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Canadian Pacific Police Service, the Canada Border Services Agency and Equité Association located hundreds of stolen vehicles that would have been shipped out to other countries which included various locations in the Middle East and Africa.

Police say the GTA has seen an increase in thefts of vehicles from residential driveways, with the majority of these crimes occurring between midnight and 6 a.m.

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Investigators are warning residents to be aware that thieves can gain entry into a vehicle by either lock manipulation or by electronic means to steal from the driveways of unsuspecting victims while ensuring not to set off alarms.

Once the thief has gained access and is inside the vehicle, an electronic device, (typically used by mechanics to reprogram the factory setting or identify engine error codes) is connected to a port below the dashboard and programs the vehicle to accept a key the thieves have brought with them.

According to investigators, after the new key is programmed, the vehicle will start and the thieves drive it away.

It’s a quick process. From start to finish it can take about two to five minutes.

Once stolen, vehicles are typically shipped overseas in shipping containers.

The investigations into the 161 stolen vehicles is ongoing, as the York Regional Police (YRP) and partnering services remain vigilant in their efforts to locate and recover stolen vehicles and to identify the criminal groups behind the thefts.

In the meantime, police have listed safety tips to help prevent residents from becoming a victim of auto theft:

  • If possible, park your vehicle in a locked garage, as the majority of the vehicles have been stolen from driveways
  • Use a steering wheel lock. It will also act as a visible deterrent
  • Install a lock on the data port. This simple device can be purchased online and blocks access to the computer port where the thieves gain access to reprogram the vehicle’s keys
  • Consider purchasing a quality video surveillance system. Ensure cameras are properly placed and functioning for day and night time use. Familiarize yourself with the system so it can be reviewed and accessed immediately.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to contact York Regional Police Auto Cargo Theft Unit at 1-866-876-5423, ext.6651

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