Police have laid more than 250 charges following an eight-week investigation into tow truck companies.
Durham Regional Police launched Project Bondar, which focused on several tow truck companies in the Greater Toronto Area. It was all sparked after a series of complaints from drivers following an accident.
“They were told they had to pay a very high fee in order to get their vehicles back,” says Const. George Tudos with Durham Regional Police.
That fee sometimes ranged thousands of dollars, according to a Global News investigation. Tudos says the issue was the car was being held ransom as well.
“A lot of times the companies would not return them unless those monies were paid,” Tudos explained.
This week, Global News spoke to a customer whose car was being held for more than $4,000. It was later released after our investigation.
Through Project Bondar, more than 30 vehicles have been recovered — including two luxury cars, a Ferrari 488 and a BMW M4, among a number of vehicles police believe may have been stolen.
“Both of these vehicles were in the process of being taken apart,” Tudos said.
“We had eight tow trucks, two of which were engulfed in flames.”
The team executed warrants in Brampton, Scarborough, Etobicoke, Ajax, Clarington, Pickering and Whitby. As a result, a range of charges were laid.
“There were a lot of contraventions against the Highway Traffic Act and Consumer Protection Act,” Tudos said.
Police say they also met with tow truck drivers to educate them on best practices as well. Investigators say they also want drivers to be mindful of who they allow to tow their car.
“Make sure you’re aware of what your insurance company covers,” Tudos said.
“Make sure the tow company removing your vehicle is a legitimate one.”
This comes just weeks after Toronto police investigated a number of tow truck fires in Toronto and York Region. Three vehicles were set ablaze within 30 minutes of each other, and police believe accelerant was used in two of those cases.
It appeared that tow truck drivers were competing for business, according to Mark Graves with the Provincial Towing Association of Ontario.
Graves told Global News in December it appears there was “a significant amount of escalation” recently, adding several companies seem to be challenging each other for work.
It’s not clear if Project Bondar is connected with this, but Const. Tudos says they are working with other police agencies.
If you have any information that could help, contact Durham Regional Police or Crimestoppers.