Arrest in Auto Thefts

By Kevin Masterman, Toronto Police Service Published: 4:29 p.m. September 17, 2014
Updated: 4:29 p.m. September 17, 2014

Police in 33 Division believe they have stopped a rash of vehicle break-ins plaguing the Leslie St. and Sheppard Ave. E. area over the past six months. Since March, 54 vehicles have been broken into in the area.

A table of various items with a handbag in the forefront and sunglasses and pocketbook in view
Sunglasses, purses, handbags and electronics were recovered by police during the search warrants

On Monday, Sept. 15,  33 Division and the Emergency Task Force conducted two search warrants in the same area where they recovered thousands in stolen property they allege came from break-ins.

They found property including bags, purses, identification, sunglasses, electronic devices and USB drives among other items they will be reuniting with owners.

“We’re encouraging people who have had their car broken into or another crime committed against them in that area to please contact the 33 Division Major Crime Unit,” Detective Sergeant Jim Gotell said, of victims trying to recover property or those who have not reported the crimes. “The investigation is continuing. We do anticipate more charges being laid.”

He said police used an abundance of caution during the search warrants because the suspect in the thefts from vehicles is similar in description to that of a man committing street robberies in the same area recently.

“In the same area people were being approached by a suspect matching the same description of the person breaking into cars‎. And they were being robbed, in particular, two at gunpoint,” Gotell said, noting police are investigating any link.

Police also found a male black Labrador retriever, approximately two years old, that has not been neutered. 

“We believe the dog may have been taken as a result of a criminal act, so if anybody,” said Gotell, encouraging anyone who has lost or had stolen such a dog to contact 33 Division. The dog is now in the custody of Animal Services.

A black dog sitting in a hallway
A dog recovered by police after a search warrant. Police believe it may have been stolen

The cars were either unlocked or the windows smashed while they were parked in public parks during the day as well as outside of residences during overnight hours. Police estimate the total value of goods taken in the tens of thousands of dollars, including a Hermes handbag valued at $5,000.

“We believe a lot of the property being taken over the last six months was disposed of,” said Gotell, noting police recovered only a portion of what was stolen.

Randy Pottinger, 46, of Toronto, was arrested. He is currently charged with theft over $5,000, 52 counts of theft under $5,000, possession of property obtained by crime, 51 counts of mischief, 52 counts of fail to comply with probation and fail to attend court. 
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-3304, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook. Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World.

A man speaks at a group of microphones while standing in front of a table of goods, mostly backpacks and handbags in view
Detective Sergeant Jim Gotell speaks to the media about the auto thefts and some of the recovered property on display
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