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124 arrests made, 177 stolen vehicles worth $10 million recovered by Ontario carjacking task force

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A provincial task force charged with probing carjackings in Ontario says it has made 124 arrests and recovered 177 stolen vehicles valued at over $10 million.

The Provincial Carjacking Joint Task Force said Tuesday that it made the arrests and recoveries over a seven-month period from September 2023 to March 2024. Officials said a total of 749 criminal charges were laid and eight firearms were seized as well.   

Intelligence gathered by the task force also led to Project Titanium, an investigation into a criminal network involved in violent auto thefts, home invasions and crime, police said.

The arrests from Project Titanium, which concluded last week, were included in the overall results.

"This joint task force exemplifies the commitment of the Greater Toronto Area law enforcement to disrupt the networks behind violent auto thefts and highlights the crucial role of collaboration in tackling issues that affect all of our communities," Toronto Police Deputy Chief Robert Johnson said at a news conference to announce the results.

He pointed out that auto theft remains one of the top revenue generators for organized crime.

Police are shown at a news conference where they provided an update on a multi-jurisdictional investigation into auto theft.

"Vehicle crime is a complex issue, but one thing is simple. Our communities deserve to feel safe when they lay their heads down at night," OPP Deputy Commissioner Marty Kearns said.

Criminal network disrupted in 'Project Titanium'

A Corvette recovered by police as part of 'Project Titanium' is pictured. (Handout / OPP)

OPP Det.-Insp. Scott Wade said the alleged crimes perpetrated by the criminal network in Project Titanium included armed home invasions, store robberies, break and enters, vehicle thefts, and carjackings.

"What is alarming about this investigation is that the vehicle thefts were not simply carried out in the middle of the night on an unoccupied target vehicle," Wade said. "Many of the thefts involve violence, somewhat forceful entry into homes with demands that the owners hand over the keys to their vehicles."

He said the criminal network involved is tied to more than 100 occurrences, including 21 home invasions and three carjackings.

"We will not allow individuals to continue instilling fear in our citizens, wondering if their homes will be entered late at night," Wade said. "Law enforcement has a duty to protect and serve and that is exactly what Project Titanium has aimed to achieve."

A Corvette recovered by police as part of 'Project Titanium' is pictured. (Handout / OPP)

In all, 103 criminal code offences were laid against eight people after search warrants were executed in Toronto and Peel Region on June 18 and 19.  

Police said they found a loaded Glock 17 firearm and ammunition, around $2,000 in Canadian currency, as well as auto theft tools, money counters, fake IDs, ski masks, and other disguises.

In all, Project Titanium recovered 23 stolen vehicles worth around $5 million, including a Corvette.

A fob relay recovered by police as part of 'Project Titanium' is pictured. (Handout / OPP)

Task force wraps, but more to do

The Provincial Carjacking Joint Task Force was formed to address rising incidents of violence related to auto crimes. Co-led by Toronto police and the OPP, it collaborated with police services from around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). While the task force wrapped up in April, police said their commitment is "unwavering" and the work is continuing.

"We will continue to collaborate with our partners in government, auto manufacturing, insurance and beyond to address this problem," Johnson said. "The strong partnerships we've established through this task force will continue to yield positive results in our fight against organized crime."

Johnson pointed out that 44 per cent of those arrested over the course of the task force's work were out on bail and 61 per cent were released on bail after being arrested. He said 30 per cent were young offenders, and of those, 47 per cent were reoffending.

He called the stats "rather staggering" and said the number of people who reoffend could be attributable to the fact that some of the crimes involved are considered "low risk-high payoff" by those who take part. He said 72 per cent of the young offenders arrested were released on bail again.

"The lack of potential consequences might be a driving factor as well and you know, frankly, our court system, rightly so, gives people second chances, sometimes third and fourth chances," he said. "And you know, it's a lucrative business fueled by organized crime and there's a lot of money to be made relatively quickly."

A gun recovered by police as part of 'Project Titanium' is pictured. (Handout / OPP)

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