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Québécois arrested in Ontario by the dozen for car theft

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In Toronto last year, around 9,500 vehicles were stolen.

  • Yannick Jacques (View profile)Yannick Jacques

Seven Quebecers, including two minors, were arrested in Mississauga, Ontario, by Peel Regional Police on January 4. They were in town temporarily to try to steal vehicles, authorities said.

Police conducted searches where the suspects were staying. All were accused, among other things, of being in possession of an automobile master key, useful for stealing a vehicle.

These seven arrests are in addition to those of dozens of Quebecers over the last twelve months, according to a compilation of press releases from different Ontario police forces carried out by Radio-Canada.

It seems to me to be a trend that has been recurring for several months, I would even say almost a year, explains Jacques Lamontagne, director of investigations for Quebec and the Atlantic at Équité Association.

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On November 28, Ontario Provincial Police arrested a Quebec man in Cochrane in northern Ontario while driving a vehicle stolen from Calgary. Shortly after, an Albertan was arrested driving another stolen vehicle in Calgary in the same region.

Criminalized groups send Quebec people to Ontario and even Alberta […] to steal vehicles and bring them back to Quebec

A quote from Jacques Lamontagne, director of investigations for Quebec and the Atlantic at Équité Association

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Both provinces are targeted for the presence of some of the most popular vehicles among thieves, such as Lexus SUVs and Dodge Ram pickup trucks. The Quebec destination of the stolen vehicles can be explained by the fact that the port of Montreal is a hub for the export of stolen cars.

The December 7 after 8 p.m., for example, a resident of Georgetown northwest of Toronto called Halton Regional Police when he caught someone trying to steal his Dodge Ram parked in his yard. The suspect fled into a waiting vehicle when the homeowner came out of his home, according to Halton Regional Police.

A Montrealer and a Laval resident were arrested in this case.

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York Regional Police's Project Majestic has helped recover dozens of stolen vehicles. Searches were carried out in the greater Toronto area and in Brossard, Quebec.

When we talk about vehicle theft, now we're talking about crime organized, according to Jacques Lamontagne.

For example, a joint investigation by York Regional Police and the Canada Border Services Agency resulted in the recovery of 25 cars worth more than $2 million at the end of the last year. Leaders from both services cited the importance of combating organized crime in auto theft.

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The modus operandi, according to Jacques Lamontagne, is that a criminal organization asks young people to locate desired models, steal them, then bring them back. It is not necessarily the same people who participate in all stages.

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The streets of Toronto, like Lawrence Avenue, are full of luxury vehicles popular with thieves. (Archive photo)

In a video published on Youtube (New window) as part of his Operation Auto Guardin December, York Regional Police described the same ploy during their investigation into two groups from Quebec.

In this video, Detective Jason Weishar explains that thieves search for vehicle models during the day and return to the targeted vehicles in the early morning, #x27;usually between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. They will steal several vehicles every night and send these vehicles back to the province of Quebec where they are put in containers and sent elsewhere.

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