Police forces in the Greater Toronto Area arrested 15 members of an organized crime group and recovered stolen cargo, tractors and trailers worth $9.24 million.
Peel Regional Police (PRP) led the investigation dubbed Project Big Rig. Investigators targeted six locations, recovering 28 containers of stolen cargo worth $6.99 million and 28 tractors and trailers worth $2.25 million.
Detective Mark Haywood from PRP’s commercial and auto crime unit said the suspects in some cases cut the fence to enter facilities, stole the truck and drove out. He added some thefts took place at truck stops and on the road after drivers left their loads unattended.
Vehicles, snowmobiles, ATVs recovered
Haywood said the 28 stolen loads varied in shape, size and value and included vehicles, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles.
An estimated $1.8 billion worth of goods travel through the Region of Peel every day, making it the largest cargo hub in Canada.
“Cargo and auto theft is not a victimless crime. It hurts people, inflicts financial harm and often leads to the funding of other criminal activity,” said Nick Milinovich, PRP’s deputy chief. “Project Big Rig is an example of our efforts to hold the individuals accountable who victimize our communities and residents. Let this be a reminder to all the criminal networks that we will continue to disrupt criminality of any kind.”
Haywood said this criminal group was identified in December 2022. In March 2023, PRP collaborated with Halton Regional Police, Toronto Police Service, York Regional Police, and Ontario Provincial Police in the Big Rig Project.
The charges that the 15 individuals face include: theft of motor vehicle; possession of property obtained by crime; fail to comply with release order; breach of probation; trafficking in stolen goods; mischief over $5,000; theft over $5,000; and break and enter.
Haywood said there is a high rate of recidivism in cargo crime and several suspects in this case are repeat offenders. He believed all members of this group have been arrested.
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