Organized crime behind surge in Canadian vehicle thefts, auto insurance fraud: experts – National


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It was gone earlier than she knew it.

In early November, a lady in a Toronto neighbourhood purchased a 2019 Lexus RX350. She registered the automobile and introduced it house with new plates on Monday Nov. 5. It solely sat in her driveway for 2 days, however when her husband seemed out the window on the morning of Thursday, Nov. eight, the midnight blue SUV was gone.

A thief had quietly pushed the SUV away in the course of the night time.

“It’s too coincidental, as a result of I solely had it for 2 days,” the girl stated. “Somebody needed to know I had that automobile.”

The lady, who didn’t need to be recognized due to fears of being focused by the theft ring, stated Toronto police suggested her she was possible a sufferer of an organized operation.

“They stated it’s in all probability in a transport container in Montreal already.”

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Her case is a part of a rising development of auto theft and auto insurance coverage fraud in Canada believed to be related to organized crime.

Thefts have been up two per cent nationally in 2017, and 15 per cent in Ontario, the hardest-hit province.

In line with Henry Tso, Insurance coverage Bureau of Canada’s vice-president of investigative companies, auto thefts value $1 billion throughout Canada per 12 months. And fraudulent auto insurance coverage claims value about $1.6 billion per 12 months in Ontario alone.

Which means in Ontario, sincere residents are paying from about 9 to 18 per cent of their month-to-month insurance coverage payments to cowl prison insurance coverage claims. The common further insurance coverage prices throughout Canada from thefts should not recognized, however believed to be important. And auto theft can also be a driver of hundreds of thousands yearly in policing prices.

So what’s driving the pricey development?

In line with Tso, organized auto theft rings are concerned in worldwide trade-based cash laundering, and elevating cash for drug-trafficking and terrorism. Transnational gangs are even sending SUVs stolen in Canada, to hold out terrorist bombings within the Center East.

Terrorists like to make use of large North American luxurious SUVs, resembling Cadillac Escalades and Chevy Suburbans, Tso stated.

“A number of them go for bombings, as a result of the terrorists can stuff numerous explosives into them.”

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The organized crime rings concerned in theft in Ontario are particularly unhealthy in Toronto, the place auto thefts are up 30 per cent this 12 months, in line with Toronto police knowledge.

In an interview, Tso stated Canadian crime networks function like prison automobile dealerships. A dealer working for a criminal offense boss will get orders for automobiles in demand in numerous areas of the world. And a group of crooks in numerous roles all through the auto provide chain helps fill the orders, and leak inside data to facilitate the method.

When new automobiles come into Canadian ports, Tso stated, crooked port staff delivering the automobiles from ships to vans and trains, take footage of VINs and in addition gather key fob data. A brand new automobile will go to a supplier and get offered. And when the automobile is registered, corrupt workers share the gathered data with crime bosses.

“Generally the unhealthy guys can get the important thing code,” Tso stated. “A number of the theft is focused.”

Most of the hottest automobiles to steal in Canada are massive, largely SUVs and pickups, for causes of profitability and utility. A more recent Mercedes GLS 450, for instance, might be offered for twice its Canadian market worth in China. Thieves are inclined to steal these high-end SUVs in Ontario and Quebec, Tso stated, and ship them to Vancouver by rail. From Vancouver ports, they’re despatched to Seattle, Hong Kong, and Thailand, earlier than being routed to China.

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Tso stated different widespread automobile theft routes movement from Toronto, Montreal and Halifax, into Europe, Africa, Central America, and the Center East.

Jeff Bates, proprietor of Lockdown Safety in Markham, stated he thinks the sharp soar in Toronto auto thefts, particularly, might be largely on account of criminals exploiting new digital key fob hacking schemes.

Digital key fobs continuously emit alerts, even when a automobile isn’t in use, Bates defined. In these hacking schemes, groups of crooks use transmitter gadgets to amplify the alerts of key fobs saved in houses, to be able to mechanically begin automobiles parked close by in drive methods.

Bates stated video proof exhibits thieves can enhance key fob alerts and steal automobiles in lower than 60 seconds, utilizing this hack.

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And like Tso, Bates says that the acute earnings in play — for instance, a top-end Lexus SUV retailing for $110,000 in Canada might be offered for 2 to 5 instances as a lot in different areas of the world — implies that organized crime has sufficient margin to purchase crooked workers in dealerships and authorities businesses.

“I feel organized crime is without doubt one of the most important backers of all of this,” Bates stated. “All you want is the VIN quantity, for tackle of registration. And theoretically, when you have somebody within the dealership, you may program a clean push begin fob to begin the automobile.”

Tso stated that for stolen automobiles routed out of Ontario and Quebec particularly, a Nigerian organized crime group, Black Axe, is behind most of the operations.

Black Axe was solely acknowledged as a prison pressure in Canada in 2013, and first made headlines in Toronto in 2015.

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Toronto police arrested 18 folks from the gang in 2015, alleging they have been concerned in stealing over 500 high-end SUVs, price about $30 million. The ring targeted on high-end Toyota SUVs together with Lexus fashions, and shipped them to areas throughout Africa from ports in Montreal and Halifax. Police alleged the ring embedded brokers at ports and trucking corporations, and in addition Service Ontario, the company that registers new automobiles.

In line with Tso, who’s a former organized crime and nationwide safety investigator with the RCMP, Canada should legislate new, harder legal guidelines towards auto theft and auto fraud insurance coverage, to be able to reverse the harmful incursion of organized crime into Canada’s auto markets.

And there are sensible tricks to defend towards auto theft, too. Tso stated that in Alberta, 25 per cent of thefts happen when an proprietor leaves keys of their automobile. Usually, parking in garages and well-lit areas might help scale back thefts, he stated.

And for homeowners of newer automobiles with digital key fobs, there’s a approach to scale back the danger of high-tech hacks. Homeowners ought to retailer key fobs in a so-called Faraday cage, a mesh enclosure that blocks alerts from hacking gadgets, each Tso and Bates stated.

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High Stolen Autos in Canada

For 2017, Insurance coverage Bureau of Canada stats present that nation-wide, Ford F350 vans maintain the highest 5 spots. In Ontario, thieves goal high-end SUVs and vans, together with Chevrolet’s Tahoe, Silverado and Suburban. In Alberta Ford’s F250s and F350s fill out the a lot of the prime 10 checklist. In Atlantic Canada, the Nissan Maxima is stolen most frequently, adopted by the Chevy Silverado and Jeep Liberty.

Six provinces skilled a rise in automobile theft in 2017:

  • New Brunswick (+28%)
  • Ontario (+15%)
  • Quebec (+7%)
  • Alberta (+6%)
  • British Columbia (+2%)
  • Newfoundland and Labrador (+1%).




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