Eight arrested in police raids across Toronto area
Published Thursday, August 28, 2014 8:23AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 28, 2014 5:45PM EDT
Eight people have been arrested and police are looking for another after executing more than 30 search warrants Thursday morning as part of investigation "Project Yellowbird."
Working with York Regional and Niagara Regional Police, Toronto officers conducted approximately 30 raids across the GTA and Niagara region early in the morning.
The search warrants were connected to a string of break-ins of high-end homes and vehicles in Toronto, York and Niagara, and involved searching residences, businesses, a storage locker and a cargo container.
In a news conference Thursday, Police Chief Bill Blair said he believed a "highly successful criminal enterprise" was responsible for the string of thefts.
Police said the vehicles were stolen with the intention of being shipped overseas, mostly to eastern Europe, and then sold for a profit.
In addition to vehicles, thieves took jewelry and other valuables, police said. Typically, two to three individuals would drive a high-end car to a high-income neighbourhood, like Forest Hill and Rosedale. They'd park the vehicle at a home, then break in and steal the homeowner's possessions and car keys, and leave with the owner's car.
The robberies would take place during the day, and police believe thieves looked for signs the homeowners weren't home, like an unplowed driveway or full mailbox, before breaking in.
So far, police said they'd recovered 23 high-end vehicles in connection to the project, which was named after a yellow Porsche that was stolen during the ice storm in December. Police said they believe they will find more vehicles.
The yellow Porsche that sparked the investigation was found overseas and is being shipped back to Canada.
All items recovered by police are being catalogued and sorted, and then will be returned to owners.
Police said Thursday that they're looking for a ninth suspect, described only as a 37-year-old male.