|Beginning September 2020, police services in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) began investigating an increase in test drive thefts occurring at local dealerships.
Police say the suspects in these thefts used fraudulent identities and in several cases, took advantage of current COVID-19 precautions to secure unescorted test drives and steal vehicles.
According to police, in certain cases, when the test drive was escorted by a sales representative, a staged collision was orchestrated in order to complete the theft.
During this time, primarily Mercedes products were targeted, police say.
Members of the Halton Regional Police (HRPS) Oakville Criminal Investigations Bureau in collaboration with the Peel Regional Police and Hamilton Police Service began to investigate these incidents.
The investigation was further supported by the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC).
On November 28, 2020, members of Peel Regional Police arrested two suspects in possession of a recently stolen vehicle.
Police say subsequent search warrants were executed by members of the HRPS Oakville Criminal Investigation Bureau at two Brampton residences and on one vehicle.
Investigators seized a second vehicle which was stolen from an Oakville dealership, approximately 450 grams of fentanyl, 45 grams of crack cocaine, a quantity of suspected Xanax tablets and approximately $10,000, according to police.
Police say Azad Sandhu, an 18-year-old from Brampton has been charged with theft of motor vehicle (3 counts) and possession of a counterfeit mark (false identity documents).
Police say Steven Singh, a 20-year-old from Mississauga has been charged with theft of motor vehicle (8 counts), utter forged documents (8 counts), possession of counterfeit mark (false identity documents) and possession for the purpose of trafficking (3 counts- Fentanyl, Xanax, Cocaine).
Both Sandhu and Singh were held in custody pending a bail hearing, according to police.
The theft of the motor vehicle and related charges are in connection with incidents that occurred in Halton, Peel, Hamilton, and South Simcoe, police say.
Prior to these arrests, HRPS investigators also executed a warrant at a residence in Toronto in October 2020, according to police.
Police say multiple items were seized at that time including a Mercedes vehicle stolen from Hamilton, stolen Ontario dealer plates, fraudulent Ontario and Quebec Driver’s Licences and approximately $3000.
As a result of that earlier investigation, Yassine Jenkal, a 23-year-old from Toronto was arrested and charged with possession of property obtained by crime (over $5000), possession of property obtained by crime (under $5000, 2 counts), tampering with vehicle identification number and possession of a counterfeit mark (4 counts).
Anyone with information in regards to these investigations is asked to contact Detective Omar Nadim of the 2 District Criminal Investigations Bureau 905-825-4747 ext. 2306.
Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.ca.