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More than 100 stolen vehicles recovered in auto theft probe involving ServiceOntario employee: Toronto police

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Toronto police say they have arrested four suspects and recovered more than 100 stolen vehicles as part of a months-long auto theft probe that involved a former ServiceOntario employee.

During a news conference on Friday morning, investigators confirmed that 28 charges have now been laid in connection with the case, dubbed Project Poacher, which was launched in January 2024.

Det. Dan Kraehling told reporters that over the course of the investigation, investigators learned that a group of suspects were “conspiring” with a former ServiceOntario employee, who was allegedly was paid to provide clean vehicle documents and plates to disguise stolen vehicles.

“It is alleged that the suspects would provide the former employee with vehicle identification numbers from vehicles that had previously been sold and exported out of the country. In exchange for money, the former employee would then create new legitimate looking vehicle registrations and licence plates for these clean VINs,” Kraehling said Friday.

“These falsified documents were then used to re-VIN the stolen vehicles, effectively disguising them and making them appear legitimate. The stolen vehicles, now with new identities, were sold to unsuspecting buyers or used in other criminal activities throughout the city.”

The vehicles were sold predominantly through various online marketplaces, he added.

Kraehling said some of the vehicles identified in the investigation were registered to “non-existent or deceased individuals” in an effect to confuse law enforcement.

He said the investigation was launched after investigators reviewed documents that were seized from a ServiceOntario location that was part of another Toronto police probe.

“We came across certain patterns in names that led us toward this group of individuals,” Kraehling said.

No outstanding suspects are wanted in connection with the case, he noted.

The vehicles seized have an estimated value of $9.5 million, police said. Of the more than 100 vehicles recovered, police said 21 of them were luxury vehicles valued at around $1.8 million. 

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