Ex-Service Ontario Worker Aided in Disguising 100 Stolen Vehicles (Video)

Project Poacher Unveiled

Toronto police announced the results of Project Poacher, an extensive auto theft investigation initiated in January 2024 by the 53 Division Major Crime Unit. The project led to four arrests, 28 charges, and the identification of over 100 stolen vehicles worth approximately $9.5 million.

Scheme Details

The investigation revealed that the suspects collaborated with a former Service Ontario employee. This individual was paid to provide clean vehicle documents and plates, effectively disguising stolen vehicles and making them appear legitimate to unsuspecting buyers. The suspects provided the former employee with Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) from vehicles that had been sold and exported out of the country. The employee then created new, legitimate-looking vehicle registrations and license plates.

Execution of Search Warrants

In May, seven criminal code search warrants were executed across Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) at various residences, commercial garages, and vehicles. So far, 21 stolen luxury vehicles valued between $1.5 and $1.8 million have been recovered.

Selling the Stolen Vehicles

The stolen vehicles, now with new identities, were sold to unsuspecting buyers primarily through online marketplaces. Some vehicles were even registered to non-existent or deceased individuals to evade law enforcement detection.

Implications for Buyers

Buyers of these disguised stolen vehicles face significant risks. Such vehicles cannot be insured, and if involved in a collision or other legal issues, the buyer would be liable. There is little recourse for these buyers, though they can pursue civil matters against the accused.

Recommendations for Used Vehicle Buyers

Toronto police recommend that anyone purchasing a used vehicle obtain a comprehensive vehicle history report through reputable sources like Carfax. Potential red flags include sudden color changes and indications that the vehicle was previously exported but is now for sale in Canada.

Ongoing Investigation

The investigation continues, but currently, there are no outstanding suspects. The success of the operation was attributed to the diligent work of the 53 Division Major Crime Unit, whose efforts were crucial in addressing these crimes and enhancing community safety.

Conclusion

The uncovering of this auto theft operation highlights the sophisticated methods used by criminals and the importance of vigilance when purchasing used vehicles. The efforts of the Toronto police have been instrumental in dismantling this group and reducing auto theft in the city.

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