Hallowe’en decorations are hanging from the trees outside George Sardelis’ East Toronto home but that did not scare thieves off early Wednesday morning when his 2021 Black Jeep was stolen from the driveway of his family’s home.
Sardelis said his wife was leaving to drive the couple’s two children to school around 7:30 a.m. when she realized the Jeep was missing.
She called her husband, who went to check what the family’s security cameras had captured.
“The vehicle was in the driveway at 2 a.m. and at 2:08 a.m. it was gone,” said George.
When he found out what had happened, Sardelis said he texted his next door neighbour on Parkview Hill Crescent, who also owns a Jeep, and found out his neighbour’s was also missing.
He then posted an update about the auto thefts on his community Facebook group and learned that two other Jeeps and a Ford F-150 pick-up truck had also been stolen, all within about 90 minutes.
Sardelis said he knows that thousands of vehicles have been stolen in Toronto this year and is not holding out hope police will find his SUV, especially given the vehicle’s tracking device was discarded in his driveway, but believes more needs to be done by police and by the federal government.
“I think there needs to be a stronger deterrent for the criminals because they’re getting away with it. If you watch the video, they’re very calm in my driveway, they’re very calm in my neighbour’s driveway and for them, it was a job. They had a list of vehicles they needed to find. They found them and off they went,” said Sardelis, who has been following news reports about the rise in auto thefts, the criminals often motivated by profit.
“I know that there are two ports where she’s shipped out from. Halifax and Montreal. I really think that the municipal, provincial and federal governments need to work together because this is a much broader issue than just the city of Toronto,” added Sardelis.
To date, Toronto Police say 7,346 vehicles have been reported missing this year. That’s up from 5,139 in all of 2021. In a statement to Toronto Police, spokesperson Stephanie Sayer said that auto thefts continue to be a concern, with the growing issues of “auto thefts through technology.” Adding the majority of vehicles being stolen have keyless ignition systems.
Sayers writes that each TPS Division has a major crime unit that investigates the reports and tries to establish similarities to other incidents and implements proactive uniform and plain-clothes projects to tackle particular hot spots.
“TPS has implemented a team specifically designed to investigate auto thefts that are associated with organized crime and this team of investigators additionally works with our other units such as Hold-Up Squad to identify those responsible,” Sayers said.
The service is also part of a GTA taskforce dedicated to carjackings and auto theft crimes.
Sardelis is now driving a rental car and said he’s looking at buying a new vehicle other than a Jeep.
“Is it victimless? No, because there’s higher payments now. I know that the insurance companies as well will look at it on a broad scale and say look, auto theft is up and across the board, we’re increasing your insurance premiums, so we’re all paying for this,” Sardelis said.