A break-and-enter investigation, started in the fall, has led to the arrest of eight people and the seizure of nearly $500,000 in stolen property.
The 22 Division Major Crime Unit initiated Project High Class a few months ago, following frequent residential robberies, primarily in south Etobicoke.
“The project was focused on identifying, arresting and preventing break-and-enters in the targeted boundaries within 22 Division,” said Acting Inspector Joanne Rudnick, at a news conference at police headquarters on February 1.
She said officers allegedly identified a 2010 GMC Acadia belonging to 63-year-old Sergio Vilo, through evidence collected from security video taken from a residence and with the co-operation of neighbours. Vilo had been wanted on break-and-enter charges in 43 Division from last year.
Officers spotted the vehicle with four occupants on January 28. They also saw a second vehicle – a 2003 Acura MDX – with three occupants driving in the area with Vilo’s vehicle.
“At around 5.26 p.m. on the same day, officers observed Mr. Vilo’s vehicle in the area of Eglinton Ave. W. and Royal York Ave.,” said Rudnick. “We allege they observed the vehicle stop and three males exited the vehicle. The officers also observed the second vehicle in the same area. Three male parties then entered a residence damaging a door and ransacked the residence. Officers then observed the three males exit the residence through the same door and return to the waiting vehicle.”
Police followed the vehicle before stopping it on Eglinton Ave. W., just west of Royal York Ave. Four males were arrested and charged and several items were allegedly recovered, including two-way radios, tools, cell phones, clothing and bags.
A short time later, the Acura MDX was pulled over and three occupants, including a Young Person, were arrested.
“Officers seized both vehicles as offence-related property and also conducted Criminal Code search warrants at residences of the arrested parties,” said Rudnick.
The seized items allegedly included jewelry, expensive handbags, cash, coin and stamp collections, a signed Nathan Horton game jersey and electronics.
Rudnick said police are working to identify the owners of the recovered property and will be releasing a website containing photos of the seized property.
“As in the past, anyone will be able to view the items and contact the investigators online,” said Rudnick. “When an item can be identified and ownership proven, it will be returned to the rightful owner. Officers have already identified items stolen in several residential break-and-enters in Toronto and even items stolen from residences in Montreal.”
Of the 26 break-and-enters in Toronto the suspects are charged with, 23 were committed in south Etobicoke.
In addition to Vilo, others charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence are 24-year-old Diego Fuenzalida, 39-year-old Gabriel Gutierrez and 59-year-old Maria Prado. Three people who cannot be identified have also been charged with break-and-enter and possession of property obtained by crime.
“These people are a ring, they are highly organized and they are targeting certain areas and neighbourhoods in 22 Division,” said Rudnick. “They are working together to commit these crimes.”
She said the investigation is ongoing and police are expected to lay more charges.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-2200, 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.