Ontario carjacking taskforce says stolen vehicles recovered, multiple arrests made

TORONTO — A criminal network has been dismantled and eight people are facing dozens of auto theft, robbery and firearms charges, Ontario Provincial Police said Tuesday, as they announced the results of an investigation born out of a provincial carjacking taskforce.

OPP said the investigation started in March after the taskforce it co-led with Toronto police identified a network allegedly behind violent auto thefts, home invasions and other non-violent auto thefts.

During the ensuing investigation, dubbed Project Titanium, OPP said officers recovered 23 stolen vehicles.

"What is alarming about this investigation is that the vehicle thefts were not simply carried out in the middle of the night on an unoccupied target vehicle; many of the thefts involved violence," said Det. Insp. Scott Wade.

Police said that last week officers carried out search warrants in Peel Region and Toronto, seizing auto theft tools, stolen vehicle parts and fraudulent photo identification.

Seven people between the ages of 19 and 23, as well as a 56-year-old are facing more than 100 charges. Arrests warrants have been issued for two of those people.

Police said the Provincial Carjacking Joint Taskforce made 124 arrests and recovered 177 stolen vehicles from September 2023 to March 2024.

Of those nabbed by the taskforce, 44 per cent were out on bail, said Deputy Chief Robert Johnson. Twenty-six of the 124 people arrested were also under 18 years old.

Johnson said auto theft is a big "revenue generator" for organized crime, describing it as a "low risk, high pay off" enterprise.

"It's a lucrative business fueled by organized crime and there's a lot of money to be made relatively quickly," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2024.

The Canadian Press