Toronto, Ontario — The average hourly wage (Customer Representative) for a Service Ontario employee is approximately $20–25$ per hour. While this is a serviceable wage for some, it wasn’t enough for the four employees who aided in a huge stolen vehicle crime ring busted early Thursday afternoon.
The bust comes from Project Myra, an investigation located throughout the Peel, Toronto, York, and Durham regions.
The investigation, which began in September 2020, resulted in the seizure of 210 vehicles with an evaluation of around $12 million. Drugs, firearms, various amounts of Canadian/U.S. currency, and two laser marking machines were also seized in the investigation.
The police executed 44 search warrants during the bust, charging 28 individuals with 242 offences in total.
Most of the stolen vehicles were either to be resold or used in criminal activity, clarified police involved in the investigation.
The implication of the four Service Ontario Employees concerns the ‘re-vinning’ of stolen vehicles, whereby the original vehicle identification number (VIN) is replaced with a forged number.
Employees at Service Ontario are accused of assisting in changing the VINs of stolen vehicles for resale or use within criminal organizations.
“Service Ontario employees were vital to these offences being committed by these three criminal organizations,” said OPP Det. Inspector Andy Bradford.
The employees would have been crucial in the achievement of the crimes, as they would have provided valuable inside knowledge and support for the criminals stealing, re-registering, and reselling vehicles.
Having an inside person would have allowed for a portion of the criminal process to go unnoticed, or at least arise less suspicion, said authorities.
A significant portion of the stolen vehicles were reused within the criminal organizations involved, or sold to willing buyers aware of the vehicle’s origins. However, a portion of the cars found throughout the investigation were sold to unknowing buyers.
Det. Insp. Bradford explains, “the stolen vehicles recovered included a mix of people that were fully aware they had these stolen, re-vinned vehicles. But it also included people who were unknowingly possessing them.”
OPP Deputy Commissioner deplores the criminal acts stating that “[People] deserve to have peace of mind when it comes to making a purchase as large as a vehicle.”
“The criminal organizations involved in Project Myra have tarnished that,” Cox said. “We want to take this opportunity to remind everyone to be extremely cautious and use judgment and discretion when purchasing a used vehicle.”
What do you think about the crime bust? What is the most shocking part of this seizure/investigation?