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Halton police recover $2.2M in pickups and SUVs amid GTA theft ring bust

Security camera footage of two suspects executing an reprogramming vehicle theft at a residence in Halton Region in 2022. Halrton Regional Police Service

Halton Regional Police say close to $2.2 million in high-end vehicles were recovered during a recent two-day sting operation targeting thieves in the GTA.

Investigators say arrests in “Project Eleanor” have been ongoing since January with a total of five individuals facing charges related to theft over $5,000 and possession of break-in instruments.

The 32 vehicles retrieved, mainly pickup trucks and SUVs, came during the execution of search warrants at a residence in Toronto and a shipping yard in Mississauga.

Halton police and the Canada Border Services Agency say the vehicles were destined for international sale due to their high resale value in those markets.

“Thieves were scouting out the vehicles during the day or just before the thefts occurred,” Halton police said in a release.

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“They then return and force entry into the vehicle’s driver door. Once inside, they reprogram the vehicle’s computer to recognize a new key fob. This style of reprogramming takes less than three minutes to achieve.”

About $11,000 in currency, stolen property and technology used in the reprogramming thefts were also seized by police during the two raids.

Four men aged between 19 and 23 from Toronto have been charged in addition to a 22-year-old from Quebec.

Investigators are suggesting owners of high-end cars park in garages, lock on-board diagnostics, invest in a secondary GPS, put key fobs in a shielded bag, and invest in a video surveillance system.

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