Ontario Automotive Dealers Warned about run of Theft
Dealerships across Southern Ontario have been notified by the police to make sure that their higher-end vehicles are secure and that their keys are locked up tight due to a recent string of thefts from dealerships across the province. While the vehicles were stolen from a variety of locations, the most common victims were dealerships. Thus, the police have warned that dealerships should take precautions to protect themselves by keeping the keys to the vehicles securely locked inside the dealership. They have also been encouraged to monitor the length of any test drives of their vehicles.
The stolen vehicles have been a mixture of both new and used, therefore they are being targeted based on different criteria. According to police statement, the perpetrators were seeking out vehicles that matched the description of those that have already been exported into the United States and would then alter the Vehicle Identification Number and sell the stolen vehicle on Kijiji. According to Waterloo Regional Police Service Det. Const. Dan Schaus, “the vehicles were cloned to look like vehicles that were already exported” and therefore, unless a buyer was able to obtain a history of the vehicle they were purchasing, they would be unable to know whether or not it was stolen. He further stated that the stolen vehicles were “an even mix” of multiple brands including: Acura, GM, Mercedes, Ford, and BMW.
One of the agencies from which vehicles were taken was keeping the keys to its new cars inside of a lockbox, sealed inside the locked cars themselves. According to police statement, the perpetrators broke the window of the cars in order to get into the vehicles and then proceeded to break the lock boxes to get the keys. However, that was not the only method used. In some cases, the perpetrators would take vehicles by renting the car that they wanted and then having a duplicate key made up. Once the vehicle was returned to the dealership, they would then come back to steal the car. In one particular case, an entire auto carrier containing seven vehicles bound for used auto dealerships was taken from a truck stop.
As of yet, two people have been arrested in connection with the thefts and nine high-end and luxury cars have been seized, however, the investigation is still ongoing and police believe that there are more vehicles involved. According to Schaus, “We are confident we have two of the main participants in this criminal activity in custody. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other vehicles we haven’t been able to recover…There are still leads [the police are] following up on as other vehicles that have been re-identified”.