One of the vehicles recovered from a shipping container at the Port of Montreal. Photo provided by OPP.One of the vehicles recovered from a shipping container at the Port of Montreal. Photo provided by OPP.

Vehicles stolen from London, Woodstock among the 598 recovered at Montreal port

Nearly 600 stolen vehicles found in hundreds of shipping containers being illegally exported overseas from the Port of Montreal included three from London and Woodstock.

The vehicles were recovered as part of Project Vector, a four-month investigation by the OPP-led provincial auto theft and towing (PATT) team, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and Quebec police services. Between December 2023 and the end of March, officers inspected 390 shipping containers at the port suspected of containing stolen vehicles. That led to the discovery of 598 stolen vehicles, including 483 from Ontario and 115 from Quebec, police announced at a news conference held on Wednesday.

"Project Vector has disrupted the criminal networks that take advantage of the Canadian export market to sell stolen vehicles," said OPP Deputy Commissioner Marty Kearns. "These vehicles were destined to be exported overseas, to markets in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South America.

The bulk of the stolen vehicles found were taken from the Greater Toronto Area with 215 from Toronto, 125 from Peel Region, and 58 from York Region. Two of the vehicles had been reported stolen to Woodstock police and one was reported to London police. The vehicles have been connected to various crimes, including carjackings and home invasions. Their approximate value is $34.5 million, police said.

"PATT will continue to assist police and justice partners in identifying, disrupting, and dismantling organized crime networks involved in vehicle crimes," Kearns said.

Last month, London police launched a new initiative called Project Safe Auto to combat auto theft in the city. The project relies on a four-pillar approach to address auto theft, involving awareness, analysis, enforcement, and technology. Efforts to educate the public have come in the form of an auto theft density map, which highlights the areas of the city where the most vehicles were stolen between December 1 and February 29. Londoners, particularly those with luxury SUVs, are also being reminded to park in a garage or well lit area when possible and to keep their key fobs in faraday bags, which prevent wireless signals from leaving or reaching the device.

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