78 luxury vehicles worth more than $10 million recovered by cops after being stolen from Mississauga, Brampton homes


Published March 21, 2023 at 11:03 am

Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah speaks at Tuesday's press conference that revealed details of a huge auto theft bust.

Dozens of Range Rovers and other luxury vehicles worth more than $10 million that were stolen from homes in Mississauga and Brampton and destined for the Middle East have been recovered by cops who say that in doing so they’ve busted up a major auto theft ring.

Peel Regional Police, who headed up the multi-jurisdictional investigation dubbed Project R&R that began last October, said at a press conference this morning (March 21) at Peel police headquarters in Mississauga that four men have been arrested and charged in connection with the criminal network that they’re calling a “well-organized and well-funded” car theft ring.

Those charged–two Mississauga men, one from North York and the other from Aurora–are alleged by police to have been involved in both the theft of the 78 vehicles from homes in Mississauga and Brampton and at Pearson Airport in Mississauga, and then subsequent efforts to quickly move the cars to Montreal and then on to final destinations for sale in the Middle East, specifically the United Arab Emirates.

Police said the 78 vehicles were recovered at various locations including “temporary cooling-off areas” in the GTA, rail yards and shipping containers as they were en route to Montreal, and overseas ports.

Vehicles were recovered dating back to last October and as recently as February, said Peel police Det. Trevor Oldham, who’s leading the ongoing investigation.

Oldham told reporters that those responsible for the auto thefts “targeted homes (in Mississauga and Brampton) in the early-morning hours and removed the GPS (systems) in a matter of minutes.”

Vehicles were also stolen from underground parking garages at Pearson Airport.

The stolen SUVs and other high-end vehicles would then be moved to areas known as “cooling off” locations before being loaded onto trains and ships bound for Montreal and eventually overseas, particularly the Middle East.

Charged by police are Imad Assi, 29, Altayeb Brafcany, 29, both of Mississauga, Ref’ At Faris Mustafa Khatabeh, 44, of North York, and Michael Zureiqat, 48, of Aurora.

They’re facing charges that include theft of auto, possession of property obtained by crime and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Investigators say the seizure of the 78 vehicles worth more than $10 million is especially significant as it “takes this money out of organized crime” that could also support various other criminal activities including those related to guns.

Peel police Chief Nishan Duraiappah told the gathering that car theft is still on the rise, particularly in Mississauga and Brampton where the per capita rate is the highest in the country, and that “to say auto theft is an epidemic across Canada and Ontario would be an understatement.”

He continued, noting that, “It is absolutely one of our communities’ greatest concerns…this is a common theme the public continues to talk about (with us) daily.”

Already this year (January and February) in Mississauga and Brampton, more than 500 stolen vehicles have been recovered by police, the chief added.

Auto thefts, in many cases targeting luxury vehicles right from homeowners’ driveways in Mississauga and Brampton, and across the GTA, have been on the dramatic rise in recent years.

Police and auto industry stakeholders came together on March 10 at the Marriott Toronto Airport Hotel to form a united front against vehicle thieves in Mississauga and Brampton.

The first-ever such Auto Theft Summit sought to brainstorm new ideas, and fine-tune older strategies, in the battle against organized car crooks.

According to Peel police, there were nearly 6,000 vehicles stolen last year in Mississauga and Brampton.

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