Carjacking Task Force Disrupting Crime Networks
A total of 109 vehicles have been recovered, 89 arrests have been made – 29 of them youths -- and 554 charges laid since a Toronto Police co-led task force was established in September 2023 due to rising violent incidents related to auto crimes across the Greater Toronto Area.
Toronto accounted for 40 of the arrests, 315 charges and 81 recovered vehicles.
Through funding provided by the Ontario Government, Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario supported this Ontario Provincial Police joint investigation.
The task force was started because of the increase in car-related crime across the province. Toronto experienced an 81% increase in auto thefts and a 78% increase in violent carjackings in the city between 2021 and 2022.
Thieves have been stealing vehicles, and then using those vehicles to carry out other violent crimes, or are shipping them overseas where they are resold for well above their value, or the VIN numbers are altered and sold domestically.
Superintendent Steve Watts of Organized Crime Enforcement said the collaboration, which started on September 21, has been successful.
“There was a need for it because of an increase in this type of offence and it needed to be addressed,” he pointed out. “We are happy with the ongoing success we have had in terms of our enforcement efforts in relation to carjackings and home invasions.”
Watts said that although the number of carjackings in Toronto decreased in 2023 compared to the year before, there is a concerning rise in violence related to auto thefts, like home invasions, that the PCJTF will continue to address.
“Across the GTA, members of the task force are successfully disrupting the networks responsible for high-risk auto thefts and holding those who are responsible to account,” he added.
Watts offered some safety tips on how members of the public can protect themselves, their homes and their vehicles.
They include parking vehicles in a garage if possible, ensuring driveways are well lit, refraining from making social media posts if you are on holiday, remaining vigilant at all times, especially when driving at night and remaining calm if approached by armed suspects.
Toronto Police and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) co-lead the task force with collaboration between police services across the Greater Toronto Area, including York, Halton, Durham and Peel Regional Services.
“PCJTF officers are working closely with members assigned to the OPP-led Organized Crime Towing and Auto Theft team and partners, including Equite Association and the Canada Border Services Agency,” said OPP Detective Superintendent Paula Milne. “Through the collaboration, we are confident that we can identify and dismantle the organized crime groups that are responsible for the recent spike in serious vehicle crimes.”
The six-month initiative comprised three operational teams – East, West and North hubs with nearly 60 members, including officers, civilian analysts and Ministry of Attorney general prosecutor support.