Stolen vehicles worth $3.5M recovered by York Regional Police in southern Europe

York Regional Police say they’ve recovered and repatriated 64 stolen vehicles valued at $3.5 million that were found in shipping containers in Europe destined for overseas sale.

Project Majestic began in early 2021 and culminated with dozens of stolen vehicles being found in shipping containers in the Republic of Malta. Investigators say the vehicles were set to be sold illegally in Africa and Arab Emirates.

The York police Auto Cargo Theft Unit says it collaborated with several other police and border agencies to identify “a criminal syndicate responsible for stealing high-end vehicles, including Lexus, Toyota and Honda sport utility vehicles, from residential driveways across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).”

The investigation revealed that suspects reprogrammed ignition computers, which allowed the vehicles to be driven using a new key.

“The vehicles were driven directly to the Port of Montreal or loaded into shipping containers in Toronto and transported to Montreal by rail,” investigators explained in a release Friday.

“The containers were then loaded onto ships and vehicles delivered to buyers in Africa and the United Arab Emirates.”

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The latest seizures come in addition to the more than 70 vehicles that were recovered in March 2021 at locations in the GTA and in Quebec. Investigators say that combined with the Malta seizures, more than 130 vehicles valued at $8 million have been recovered.

Police say a total of 18 people have been charged with more than 170 offences in connection to the theft ring.

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