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Hundreds of charges laid in connections with violent vehicle crimes in the GTA since September

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The Provincial Carjacking Joint Task Force (PCJTF) says that it has made 89 arrests and laid hundreds of charges in the past few months in connection with violent vehicle crimes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), including carjackings and home invasions.

In all, 109 vehicles have been recovered and 554 charges have been laid since September 21, the task force announced Thursday.

Carjackings have become a growing problem across the GTA. Police in the region have said that they are concerned about an increase in violence associated with car theft as well.

"Although the number of carjackings in Toronto decreased in 2023 compared to the year before, we continue to see a concerning rise in violence related to auto thefts that the PCJTF will continue to address," Toronto police Superintendent Steve Watts said in a statement. "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.”

The provincial carjacking joint task force was formed amid a rise in violent car thefts. The task force is led jointly by Toronto police and Ontario Provincial Police, and collaborates with other police services across the region.

“PCJTF officers are working closely with members assigned to the OPP-led Organized Crime Towing and Auto Theft Team and partners, including Équité Association and the Canada Border Services Agency," OPP Detective Superintendent Paula Milne said in the same release. "Through this ongoing 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."

Police also released a list of tips Thursday to help people prevent home invasions and carjackings.

To help prevent home invasions, police advise parking vehicles in a garage if possible, ensuring the exterior of your home and driveway are well-lit all night, having security cameras and a home alarm system, and making sure backyard gates and ground windows are secure.

Motorists can help prevent carjackings by remaining vigilant at all times, especially while driving at night.

"If you see someone coming toward your vehicle, lock the doors and set the alarm with your key fob," police say. "Noise will attract attention to yourself and your vehicle, which may deter thieves."

Police also noted that some thieves will use rear-end collisions as a way to get people out of their cars so that they can steal them.

"Do not exit the vehicle until it is safe to do so. Take note of the description of the driver, passengers (if applicable) and vehicle, including the colour, make, model and license plate number," police say. "If you notice anything suspicious, remain inside and call your police service of jurisdiction, or 911 in case of an emergency."

Drive to the nearest police station if you suspect you are being followed or park your vehicle in any public lot that is well lit and likely to have security cameras, and then call police.

Anyone approached by armed suspects should remain calm, comply with their demands, and call police when it is safe to do so.

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