Twenty people have been charged with 350 offences after an investigation into a high-end vehicle theft ring spanning central and eastern Ontario as well as part of Quebec.
Ontario Provincial Police say they launched the probe in June following a series of thefts at vehicle dealerships and in residential areas, including some in which vehicles were stolen from the owner’s driveway.
Police say the accused ran a highly organized operation that aimed to export stolen vehicles overseas in shipping containers through the Port of Montreal.
Investigators were able to recover 97 vehicles during the investigation.
They say officers also seized a number of drugs during their searches, including methamphetamine tablets, cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis.
They also recovered items stolen from vehicles.
The investigation was carried out in conjunction with police services in Montreal, Laval, Que., York Region and Ottawa, as well as the Canada Border Services Agency and the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Other police forces also gave assistance.
“We want to remind the public to take precautions when leaving their vehicles unattended including parking in a well-lit area or a locked garage when possible,” Supt. Bryan MacKillop, director of the OPP’s organized crime enforcement bureau, said in a statement.
“There have been hundreds of victims affected and we, along with our partners, will continue to take action against criminals who victimize members of our communities.”
The announcement came roughly a week after police in Hamilton said they had arrested four suspects in connection with an alleged international auto theft and export ring.
In that case, members of the ring were alleged to have stolen rental cars from across southern Ontario and sent them overseas or dismantled them for parts.
The four suspects in that case — three men and a woman — face dozens of charges between them.