Hundreds of vehicles stolen from Ontario found in Montreal

The OPP estimates the value of the vehicles stolen in Ontario at $34.5 million

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A long overdue search of shipping containers in Montreal has led to the recovery of 598 stolen vehicles – mostly taken from Ontario – before they could be illegally exported overseas.

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Ontario Provincial Police say the OPP-led Provincial Auto Theft and Towing (PATT) Team and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) searched hundreds of shipping containers at the Port of Montreal in recent months as part of an investigation dubbed Project Vector.

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“Since December 2023, Project Vector has resulted in 390 shipping containers inspected,” the OPP said Wednesday, adding 598 vehicles have been recovered.

Of the vehicles found, the OPP said 483 were stolen from Ontario (more than 80%) and 115 were taken from Quebec.

“The recovered vehicles identified as stolen in Ontario have a potential value of approximately $34.5 million,” the OPP said.

The recovered vehicles were stolen in carjackings and home invasions – crimes that have spiraled out of control in recent years.

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It has been widely reported for years that vehicles stolen in Ontario are routinely loaded into containers and shipped from the Port of Montreal to markets in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South America.

“Project Vector has disrupted the criminal networks that take advantage of the Canadian export market to sell stolen vehicles,” OPP Deputy Commissioner Marty Kearns said. “PATT will continue to assist police and justice partners in identifying, disrupting and dismantling organized crime networks involved in vehicle crimes.”

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As auto theft has become more pervasive, and more violent, there have been repeated calls for the CBSA to be more proactive in stopping stolen vehicles from being shipped out of the Port of Montreal.

Project Vector saw 390 shipping containers inspected since December 2023 and led to the recovery of 598 stolen vehicles – 483 of which were taken from Ontario.
Project Vector saw 390 shipping containers inspected since December 2023 and led to the recovery of 598 stolen vehicles – 483 of which were taken from Ontario. Photo by Handout /Ontario Provincial Police

“Auto theft is a growing challenge in Ontario, Quebec and across the country,” said Annie Beausejour, CBSA’s regional director general for the Quebec Region. “The Canada Border Services Agency provides critical support to law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute these crimes.”

“The leadership of policing partners and their upfront, preventative and investigative work – within Canada and ahead of reaching our borders – is imperative to reduce auto theft,” she said. “The work done by our border services officers is making a real difference in securing the supply chain and disrupting criminal activity at our borders.”

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Project Vector remains ongoing.

Anyone with any information about auto theft is to call the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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PROJECT VECTOR

A breakdown of where recovered vehicles were stolen from in Ontario:

215 – Toronto Police Service

125 – Peel Regional Police

58 – York Regional Police

19 – Halton Regional Police Service

15 – Durham Regional Police Service

13 – Ontario Provincial Police

12 – Ottawa Police Service

7 – Hamilton Regional Police Service

6 – Niagara Regional Police Service

5 – Waterloo Regional Police Service

2 – Woodstock Police Service

2 – Barrie Police Service

2 – South Simcoe Police Service

1 – London Police Service

1 – Guelph Police Service

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