Toronto family facing charges after auto-shop raid

A man who was once dubbed the 'King of Car Thieves' and four family members are facing charges after police raided the family's auto repair shop.
Balwinder Dhaliwal, left, and his son Bikramjit, right, are among five family members facing charges in connection with an alleged auto-theft ring. (Alex Tavshunsky/CBC)

A man who was once dubbed the 'King of Car Thieves' and four family members are facing charges after police raided the family's auto repair shop.

Balwinder Dhaliwal, 55, and four family members are facing numerous charges after police raided the Collision World shop, just off Dixon Road near Pearson airport.  

Police allege that non-existent cars from New York state would be registered in Canada, then the phony vehicle registration numbers would be placed on cars stolen in the Greater Toronto Area. The cars would then be re-sold with the owners unaware of the car's origin.

"It was just a ghost car, just basically a blank piece of paper and they would just fill out what ever they wanted to on that," said Det.-Sgt. Lou Malbeuf of York Regional Police's auto cargo theft unit. The lack of vehicle history raised a red flag for investigators who worked for six months on the investigation along with Toronto and Peel police.  

Malbeuf says a buyer looking up the history of one of the stolen cars using Ontario's Used Vehicle Information Package wouldn't find anything suspicious.  

"They wouldn't see anything," he said. "It came from New York state and that would be it. So it would look like it was legit. The technology and security on cars are getting more difficult, so the days of hot-wiring cars are over," Malbeuf said.  

Police said three stolen vehicles including a BMW M5 and a custom Shelby Mustang were seized from Collision World. The Mustang had allegedly been stolen just six days ago and was already altered and ready for resale. Police say they also recovered $500,000 dollars worth of stolen parts from four other vehicles.

Dhaliwal along with his wife Kuljit, 52, sons Balkevinjit, 26, Bikramjit, 27, and daughter Kiranjit, 28, are facing charges of possession of stolen property over $5,000, tampering with a vehicle identification number, trafficking in stolen property and breach of recognizance.

They appeared in Newmarket court Thursday. Dhaliwal's wife and daughter received bail, but he and his sons had their hearing postponed until Friday.  

Police allege that people would bring stolen cars to Collision World to have their vehicle identification numbers changed and then sold at a profit.  

"If you're in a business for 20-25 years you sure get to know the ins and outs of the industry that you're in. And you sure know how to work the system," Malbeuf said.  

He says this is a good lesson for consumers.   "Do your homework…research the place you're going to be buying it from, see if there's any discrepancies, see if it's a solid business and go from there."

Previous charges

Balwinder Dhaliwal has a long history with stolen cars.  

In the early 2000s, he was convicted of selling stolen cars and was sentenced to 10 years in jail at Joyceville Prison near Kingston.  

In 2003, he told the CBC's Dave Seglins that he used to fill specific orders for stolen cars, down to the make, model and even colour. Dhaliwal said he would ship about 20 stolen cars a month and pocket about $400,000 in profit.  

Dhaliwal was even profiled on the History Channel series Masterminds in an episode entitled The King of Car Thieves.  

But even after being released from prison, Dhaliwal's troubles weren't over. In January 2010, Dhaliwal, along with his sons, daughter and three others, were arrested when police dismantled a massive marijuana grow-op found under Collision World.  Police found more than 1,300 marijuana plants worth $1.3 million.  

Dhaliwal is still working his way through the courts on the various drug-related offences. He completed a preliminary hearing on April 10 of this year and was ordered to stand trial. He's scheduled to be back in court on June 28 on the drug charges.