Classic cars among stolen vehicles recovered by Ontario police in Stirling

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Classic cars among stolen vehicles recovered by Ontario police in Stirling
A large-scale investigation that started in southwestern Ontario, led police to a property near Stirling in central Ontario. That's where they say they seized more than $3 million in stolen vehicles - including classic cars. Tricia Mason has more – May 23, 2024

Two people have been arrested after police recovered a number of stolen vehicles in central Ontario earlier this month.

In late 2023, OPP in Lambton County in southwestern Ontario launched an investigation after receiving a complaint of stolen vehicles with a combined value of approximately $3 million.

OPP say their extensive investigation led to a search warrant being issued on May 14 at an address in Stirling, a rural community 25 kilometres north of Belleville and approximately 450 kilometres east of Lambton County.

Investigators located several of the reported stolen vehicles, including some classic cars. Police also seized 16 vehicles from the two accused as proceeds of crime.

Robert Bradshaw, 54, and Gary Leblanc, 55, both of Stirling, Ont., were arrested and each charged with theft of motor vehicles over $5,000, fraud over $5,000, using forged documents and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. Leblanc was also charged with uttering threats.

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Classic cars were among the recovered vehicles in Stirling, Ont., on May 14, 2024. OPP photo

Both were released from custody and are scheduled to appear in court in Belleville at a later date.

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According to the database of the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC), which inspects Ontario’s dealerships and auto salespeople, both men in December 2003 pleaded guilty to multiple charges under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act as an unregistered dealer.

Bradshaw was fined $1,200 for each of his six guilty pleas; Leblanc received a $600 fine for each of his four guilty pleas, the OMVIC reports.

OPP say the investigation involved a number of units, including the OPP Fleet, Supply and Weapons Services Bureau, Central Hastings OPP crime unit and emergency response team and the OPP-led provincial auto theft and towing (PATT) team and provincial asset forfeiture unit (PAFU).

The investigation is ongoing, police said Thursday morning.

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“Collaboration across our organization and with our partner agencies is imperative to combat the prevalence of auto theft and related fraud within Ontario,” said OPP Det. Sup. Paula Milne of the organized crime enforcement bureau.

Milne says PATT and PAFU are “well-equipped” to assist with investigations into auto theft and financial crime.

“This investigation is another testament to the surge we have seen in auto theft and financial crimes over the last few years and the need for subject matter expert involvement in these investigations,” Milne said.

Lambton County OPP detachment commander Chris Avery says the crime unit members’ “exemplary efforts” played an important role in bringing the multi-unit investigation to a conclusion.

“Crime does not respect borders. That’s why it’s essential that members of law enforcement work together to bring criminals to justice,” he said.

— more to come

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