Twelve individuals have been arrested in connection with an alleged auto theft and insurance fraud ring in the Greater Toronto Area.
The arrests were made by the Peel Regional Police, which claimed that the individuals used their insider knowledge as previous automotive industry employees to conduct a “re-vinning” scheme, which involves the fraudulent alteration of vehicle registration numbers.
During a Wednesday press conference, acting Detective Sergeant Simon Kennedy detailed how the group re-registered stolen vehicles they have re-vinned before trafficking them to buyers.
“It is believed that the re-vinned vehicles were trafficked to buyers who were paid to fraudulently buy the vehicles,” Kennedy told reporters. “In some cases, the buyers attempted to submit fraudulent insurance claims by reporting their vehicle stolen.”
Investigation into the scheme began in March after officers received a tip from a member of the public. Peel police said it worked with the Commercial Auto Crime Bureau and Équité Association on the case.
The months-long operation revealed that the stolen vehicles had been taken from residential driveways or dealership lots, according to the police. It also led to the recovery of nine vehicles collectively valued at over $1.2 million and prevented $350,000 in insurance fraud.
The arrested individuals are facing a total of 81 charges, including trafficking in stolen goods, fraud over $5,000, possession of property obtained by crime, and forgery.
Peel police announced the arrests following the Ontario government’s announcement that it would be law enforcement address the growing number of auto theft cases in the province.
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