Toronto man tracks down his own truck after theft, even after 911 told him not to
More than 8,000 vehicles were reported stolen in Toronto alone in 2022
With auto theft on the rise in the Greater Toronto Area, one local man managed to find his own stolen truck last month, even after, he says, a 911 dispatcher told him not to go looking for it himself.
Alan Regnier told CBC Toronto he was in bed on Jan. 4 when he decided to check when his truck would next need an oil change through an app on his phone.
That's when he saw an alert that his truck's alarm had gone off, even though its horn hadn't blared from the driveway of his Etobicoke home as it should have.
"I started to panic. I got out of my house so fast, realized my truck was gone," Regnier told CBC Toronto. He was able to track his truck's location through his phone, so he grabbed a set of spare keys for another vehicle, called police, and told them he was driving to that location.
"They said, 'If you carry on pursuing it we're going to end the call. At that point I ended the call for them, tracked the location, and went straight to my vehicle where it was sitting," he said.
Toronto police Const. Cindy Chung told CBC Toronto in a case of vehicle theft where GPS information was available, communication services for police would caution a caller not to put themselves in danger, not to engage with thieves, and not to pursue the vehicle if it's moving, as that is a public safety threat.
"We would also caution the caller that it may take time to get the police on the way if there are no cars available and the officers are on other calls," she said in an email.
"If the air tags are active, the caller could wait for the police in safety and then when the police are available the GPS could be looked at and the location could be checked. Safety is the priority here."
Tracked to Mississauga
Regnier said he managed to find his truck about a 15 minute drive from his home — except it was now parked in Mississauga, so he called Peel police, who said officers were on their way.
In an email, Peel police confirmed they were called to the area of Eglinton Avenue and Dixie Avenue around 9:30 p.m.
"[Police] drove past my truck three times, called me and said, 'Sorry sir, can't find it,'" Regnier said — to which he replied that he was staring right at it. He was then told to put on his hazard lights, and officers would come back again.
They did, and Regnier says an officer then walked him over to his truck, which was unlocked. He says the thieves had cut a small hole in the grill on the front of his vehicle to clip a cable that disabled the horn, so it wouldn't sound when the alarm went off in his driveway.
Auto thefts rise
He later found out they pried open the door and programmed the truck to start, which he figures was over in mere minutes. No arrests have been made in connection with the case, and Peel Police say there is no suspect information available.
Auto theft is a crime becoming more and more common in the province and in the Greater Toronto Area. In 2022, roughly 1,380 vehicles were stolen across Halton Region, according to police data. In Toronto alone, more than 8,000 vehicles were reported stolen in 2022. That number is up from about 5,600 in 2021.
Regnier, for his part, said he doesn't blame police in this instance, and was happy enough to get his truck back — albeit missing some electronics he had inside like a dash camera and a phone charger, along with some laptops linked to his business.
"I think the police are trying their best with the capabilities they have," he said.
"I'm not out here to bash the police, I have a lot of respect for the police."
- A previous version of this story said the incident happened on Feb. 4. In fact, it occurred on Jan. 4.Feb 09, 2023 11:11 AM ET