Over 500 Stolen Cars Recovered
A five-month Toronto Police Service (TPS) investigation aimed at reducing the number of catalytic and stolen automobile thefts has resulted in the recovery of 556 vehicles worth more than $27 million and 314 charges laid against 119 people.
Launched in November 2022, Project Stallion is ongoing.
“As we speak, our dedicated officers are continuing to recover stolen vehicles and identify and hold the people who commit these crimes to account,” Chief Myron Demkiw said at a news conference April 26 in front of recovered stolen vehicles. “As we all know, the number of auto thefts taking place in Toronto has increased dramatically over the last several years.”
The Chief said auto thefts have doubled since 2019 making the crime a significant issue across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Demkiw noted that ‘Project Stallion’, like others that are taking place across the Service, is an example of the actions that Toronto Police are taking in communities to tackle the growing problem.
“As a Service, we are committed to the safety and well-being of our residents above all else,” he said.
Superintendent Ron Taverner, the Unit Commander for 22 and 23 Divisions, said almost 2,000 vehicles and 300 catalytic converters were stolen in the two divisions last year.
The Criminal Intelligence Service of Ontario and Canada Border Services Agency supported this investigation.
Vehicle theft and its impact on violent crime, added Taverner, is a growing problem in the GTA that can seriously compromise a victim’s personal safety and well-being.
“If your car is stolen out of your driveway, it affects your ability to get to work and to collect your children and run errands,” he said. “In particular, if you are a victim of a carjacking, the trauma from that event can be serious and long-lasting. Toronto Police do not take these crimes lightly and Project Stallion is proof of that.”
Detective Sergeant Peter Wehby of the Service’s Organized Crime Investigative Support (OCIS) Team launched in June 2022 to provide targeted response to emerging crime trends that are associated with organized crime said the spike in auto thefts is not exclusive to the GTA.
“This is now a provincial, national and even international problem,” he noted. “This continues to be a problem because stolen vehicles are often sold domestically or internationally for substantial profit. Organized crime groups have created a demand for these vehicles which, at times, result in violent crimes such as pharmacy robberies and carjackings.”
Wehby said the OCIS team has made auto theft a priority.
“We have a group of dedicated investigators who are tasked with addressing this in partnership with local Divisions,” he added. “These investigators are working around the clock in collaboration with our partners in policing, government agencies, industry and our communities. Project Stallion is an example of how intelligence-led and information sharing can help us tackle this growing problem.”
Each TPS Division has a Major Crime Unit that investigates auto theft reports and establishes if there are any similarities or links to other incidents. The Divisions also analyze crime trends and implement proactive uniform and plainclothes projects to tackle particular hot spots.