York cops bust auto theft ring

High-tech crooks reprogrammed cars to accept new key fobs

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York Regional Police have recovered 88 stolen vehicles worth $5 million and arrested nine people in an auto theft investigation.

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Project Crockpot, carried out by the service’s Auto Cargo Theft unit, began in June, investigating reports of vehicles being stolen and sold overseas.

Police executed search warrants at several locations in Toronto, managing to recover 88 stolen vehicles.

They also seized $300,000 and electronic programmers used by thieves to steal vehicles.

The thieves would typically use a screwdriver to gain access to the vehicle before programming the car’s computer to accept a new keyfob.

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The vehicle starts and the thieves drive off in a process that can take less than 20 minutes.

Three of the nine people arrested were from Quebec.

“York Regional Police would like to thank partnering agencies for their assistance including the Canada Border Services Agency, Équité Association, The Malta Police Force, Malta Department of Customs and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police International Police Operations,” police said in a release.

Evidence gathered by police in Project Crockpot, targeting high-tech auto theft in York Region.
Evidence gathered by police in Project Crockpot, targeting high-tech auto theft in York Region. Photo by Handout /York Regional Police

The names of those accused have not been released by police.

Police recommend keeping vehicles in a locked garage secured with a steering wheel lock, and investing in a good surveillance system.

Installing a lock on your car’s data port will also prevent thieves from programming your vehicle to accept new keys.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 6651, or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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