Service Ontario employees helped major car theft ring, OPP says


Four Service Ontario employees have been charged with providing assistance to criminal networks that illegally registered stolen vehicles – one of the key findings of a major interprovincial auto theft investigation announced Thursday.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) launched Project Myra in September 2020 as a multi-jurisdictional operation investigating a wave of auto thefts in the GTA, including fraudulent practices of modifying stolen vehicles before returning them. resell to unsuspecting buyers.

Twenty-two months later, the Ontario Provincial Police announced that the joint operation had successfully recovered 214 vehicles worth more than $12 million.

Specifically, police say Project Myra uncovered three separate GTA criminal organizations charged with re-VINifying stolen vehicles, fraudulently registering them, and reselling them to individuals, other criminal networks, or keep for their own use.

The Durham Region crime group was found to be registering stolen vehicles in Saskatchewan before transferring illegal documents to Ontario for re-registration and resale. Another York Region criminal group specifically targeted high-end vehicles, and a third network operated in Peel Region.

Det. Insp. Andrew Bradford confirmed to the Star that four Service Ontario employees in the GTA have been identified and charged with assisting the three criminal networks in the fraudulent registration of stolen vehicles in Ontario with altered VINs.

A total of 28 people have been charged and face 242 offenses including firearms and drug charges. Five of them remain in custody while others have been released, with appearances in various courts in Ontario and Saskatoon this month and next.

“Their criminal organizations have been dismantled,” said Bradford, who noted that the public should always be vigilant and take action to protect their vehicles.

Ontario Provincial Police Deputy Commissioner Chuck Cox said auto theft has been “rampant” in Ontario in recent years and that sophisticated criminal activity by rings such as those uncovered under the Myra project prevent residents from having “peace of mind” when buying a used vehicle. vehicle.

“If any part of a transaction or anything leading up to the transaction appears suspicious, do not provide funds,” Cox said, encouraging the public to contact law enforcement whenever they feel someone is. thing is wrong.

After executing dozens of execution warrants under this project, investigators seized six firearms, 230 grams of fentanyl and 1,840 grams of cocaine among other drugs. They also discovered and seized $160,000 and $8,400 (US) in the process.

Project Myra included police investigators from Saskatoon and Peel, York, Durham and Halton regions and had the help of the Equity Association, a national non-profit organization that fights insurance fraud.

Car thefts, including violent carjackings with firearms, have increased in the GTA in recent years, with victims often reporting surprisingly similar stories.

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