More than 100 charged in rash of auto thefts in Toronto, police say
A total of 556 stolen vehicles recovered with value of over $27M, police announce
Hundreds of vehicles have been recovered and more than 100 people have been charged in an ongoing Toronto Police Service investigation into car and catalytic converter thefts in the city's west end, police announced Wednesday.
From November 2022 to April 11, 2023, investigators charged 119 people and recovered 556 vehicles stolen in Toronto, police said at a news conference.
The recovered vehicles have a combined value of more than $27 million, said Supt. Ron Taverner, the district commander for 22 and 23 divisions for Toronto police.
"Vehicle theft and its impact on violent crime is a growing problem in our city and the Greater Toronto Area," Taverner said.
In 2022, almost 2,000 vehicles were stolen in the city's west end, police say, many of them Honda CR-Vs and Ford F-150 trucks. The area also saw more than 300 catalytic converter thefts, police say.
Those arrested from Ontario, Quebec
According to police, the stolen cars would have either been shipped overseas to be sold or used to carry out other crimes locally.
"By and large, there are little cells or large cells of individuals who are involved in these thefts and working as organized groups," Taverner said.
The majority of those arrested are from Ontario, while 14 others live in Quebec.
"There's a number of people from different provinces that are coming in here and doing these things, so it's a real business for these people," Taverner said.
Det. Sgt. Peter Wehby of the police's organized crime investigative support team said his work is focused on making sure stolen cars don't leave the country.
"The resale value overseas is extremely high and it's a very lucrative business. And organized crime has really taken a strong part in making that happen," Wehby said.
In one instance, Taverner said, an investigation started with a single car that led police to a location with multiple containers that would be used to transport vehicles to the Port of Montreal. That initial car led police to 30 other cars, he said.
When police recover a car, if the insurance on the vehicle has yet to be paid out, it goes back to its original owner, said Taverner. If the insurance has already been paid out, the car goes to the insurance company, he added.
But with catalytic converters, it can be more difficult to get them to their owners unless they can be linked to a vehicle, he said.
Taverner said thieves will sometimes drill holes through the rear or side of a vehicle to enter it, then start the car using a "sophisticated" piece of equipment.
He said the investigation into car and catalytic converter thefts isn't stopping with Wednesday's announcement.
"A message for the criminals: we're coming after you," he said.