|Police have filed a total of 640 charges against members of a criminal organization that they say stole more than 500 luxury SUVs from GTA driveways over the last year and then shipped them to various African countries for resale.|
Police uncovered a “sophisticated operation” wherein a trio of employees at two GTA automobile yards would photograph the vehicle identification number cards and key codes for select vehicles and sell the images for $200 each. At that point, a corrupt employee at a Durham Region Service Ontario office would then be paid to search a government database and provide information on who purchased the vehicles for which the organization already possessed the VIN card information and key code.
| With that information in hand, a team of thieves had “a shopping list” complete with addresses and key codes they could use to enter the vehicles without setting off their security systems. The thieves were then able to use laptops to hack into the vehicles’ operating system and program a blank key to start the ignition.|
From there most of the vehicles were shipped to ports in Halifax or Montreal, where they were then loaded onto cargo ships and sent to Nigeria or Ghana. Police believe the ’Black Axe’ runs the operation.
Police said they arrested two of the alleged leaders of the ring along with the locksmith, a number of shipping yard employees and car dealership owners. Six more suspects remain at large.