Imagine arriving at a GO station after a long ride on transit. You're tired and just want to get home, but when you head to your vehicle you find something astonishing — it's up on blocks, with all four wheels nowhere to be found.
That exact scene has played out a handful of times in recent weeks at the Aldershot GO parking lot, according to Halton police. Someone is picking off the rims and wheels of pickup trucks.
The latest theft happened Tuesday night, according to Anne Marie Aikins, senior manager of media for Metrolinx, and it's not the first time.
"We know it's not an isolated incident. We have seen cars or trucks put up on blocks," she explained.
"You can never 100 per cent prevent these thieves from doing what they do. They operate in teams, they work really fast, they know what they're doing and I think they're ruthless," AIkins added. "They violate people's property and that makes us very determined to do whatever we can to deter them and catch them."
'Strong possibility' thefts are related
A photo of one to the trucks that's been targeted, a big, black 4X4 Chevy Silverado High County, was posted to Reddit.
The person who took the picture told CBC News they snapped the shot Tuesday around 6 p.m. in the southern lot of the station. All four wheels had been removed and the truck was balanced on cinder blocks.
Halton police say they're investigating a rash of five similar thefts that happened during the final weeks of August and the first week of September.
Two truck owners reported their tires and rims stolen at the station's north lot sometime around Sept. 4, according to Const. Ryand Anderson, including one person who parked at 6:30 a.m. and returned just 12 hours later to find themselves stranded.
Police are also probing three other thefts of wheels from both the north and south lots on Aug. 21, 29 and Sept. 3 respectively.
"Halton police are actively investigating these thefts and are certainly looking into the strong possibility that they are related," wrote Anderson in an email.
No arrests have been made and police say they don't have a suspect description.
Aikins declined to go into detail about Metrolinx's strategies to fend off crime, saying providing too much info would "tell the bad guys exactly what we're doing to try to catch them."
She did say that in cases like this, a bulletin would be sent out to staff to make them aware of what is being investigated and what they should be on the lookout for. Customers would be made aware of what's going on through a communications plan that would include tips for how to keep valuables and vehicles safe.
Security cameras are also posted around Metrolinx properties to deter criminals and provide evidence.
"Our transit safety officers are very good at breaking up [theft] rings," Aikins added. "They are very diligent in their work and then work very closely with police."
'It feels terrible'
But all of that might not offer much comfort to commuters and other GO Transit users.
Aikins acknowledged Metrolinx operates many "huge lots" that are tempting targets because they're packed with vehicles and open to the public.
Parking in a public lot comes with a risk of theft, she said, before quickly pointing out people take that same risk every time they decide to park on the street, even if it's in front of their house.
The transit agency is committed to ensuring people and their property are safe within its system by doing everything they can to prevent crimes, she said, and investigating whenever incidents take place.
"It's really unfortunate, it's frustrating," said Aikins. "It feels like a violation when drivers come back and our customers see what's happened to their car. It feels terrible."