Toronto Police, with assistance from a Quebec police service, has cracked a large-scale auto parts theft ring.
The four-month investigation has led to the arrest of two Quebec residents who are facing 231 criminal charges related to the theft of catalytic converters from commercial vehicles.
It’s alleged they stole 67 converters, valued at nearly $1.5 million, from three police Divisions in the city.
Constable Richard Di Nino, of the 31 Division Major Crime Unit, said the investigation started after the accused allegedly stole converters from a HINO truck dealership at 75 Arrow Rd. on the night of February 6.
“The suspects loaded the converters into a HINO truck that they broke into at the location,” said Di Nino. “They hot-wired it and drove across the road to a parking lot at 88 Arrow Rd. where it was abandoned.”
On February 12, a HINO Canada vice-president contacted Toronto Police, advising them of the theft and the value of the stolen parts. He also advised police that the theft of these parts was prevalent in Quebec in the last two years.
“Each part is valued at around $23,000 and the reason the part is so valuable is because it contains precious metals, platinum and palladium,” Di Nino said.
The cost of repairing each truck was almost $27,600.
While reviewing surveillance video of the night the converters were stolen at 75 Arrow Rd., a yellow Penske rental truck was observed circling the parking lot at 55 Arrow Rd. and a man was seen hopping the fence from 75 Arrow Rd.
On February 19, Di Nino contacted Penske Canada, who informed them that 22 of their trucks were rented in Eastern Canada in the time frame that the thefts occurred. A total of 21 were rented to businesses and one was rented to an individual with a Quebec address.
“This, of course, peaked my interest since we were advised that these thefts had occurred in Quebec also,” said Di Nino, noting the check of the individual renting the vehicle heightened their suspicions.
It’s also alleged the accused stole converters from commercial vehicles in 22 and 42 Divisions.
“The pick-up truck description they were using matched a vehicle that had been used in several other thefts,” Di Nino pointed out. “Based on the high number of kilometres put on the Penske renal truck, we believe that the truck, loaded with the stolen parts from 75 Arrow Rd. was driven back to Quebec.”
Carl Savoie, 34, of Terrebone, and Christian Ducas, 34, of Riviere-Bleue, were arrested by Terrebonne Police Service in Quebec on May 25 and 30 respectively. On June 4, members of the 31 Division Major Crime Unit went to Quebec and brought the two accused back to Toronto to face charges.
The men made their first court appearance on June 5 and were remanded to prison. They will make another court appearance on June 10.
Di Nino alleges that the men sold the converters as scrap metal and wants to speak to anyone who has information about such sales.
The investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-3100, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at 222tips.com, 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.