Toronto police bust car theft ring, recover 100 vehicles

Toronto police revealed the results of a major auto theft and re-vinning investigation called Project Poacher on Friday. (Robert Krbavac/CBC - image credit)

Toronto police investigators say they've dismantled an organized auto theft ring, arrested four men and recovered more than 100 stolen vehicles after a months-long probe called Project Poacher.

Investigators from Toronto Police Service's 53 Division announced the results of the investigation at a news conference Friday.

The project began in January 2024 with the goal of identifying and arresting members of the group, who were suspected of stealing and re-registering numerous motor vehicles through a process known as re-vinning, police said.

During the investigation, police say they learned the group was conspiring with a former ServiceOntario employee who was allegedly being paid to provide them with "clean" vehicle registration documents and licence plates to disguise the stolen vehicles as legitimate, so they could be sold to unwitting buyers.

Four men were arrested in May and now face a total of 28 charges, including participating in a criminal organization, fraud over $5,000, tampering with vehicle identification numbers and uttering forged documents, according to a news release.

Police say they seized more than 100 stolen vehicles worth approximately $9.5 million that were linked to these individuals. Of those 100 vehicles, 21 were re-vinned luxury vehicles valued at approximately $1.8 million total.