A Toronto, Ontario couple and their three grown children were arrested for running what police say was a family-run chop shop and car-theft ring. The arrests are the culmination of a six-month investigation by police in York Region. Police have recovered around $500,000 worth of stolen parts at Collision World near Martin Grove Road and Highway 401.
The five family members have been charged with possession of stolen property over $5,000, tampering with a Vehicle Identification Number, trafficking in stolen property and breach of recognizance.
One of the men arrested has a previous conviction for running a chop shop in the '90s. He is also alleged to be behind a large marijuana grow-op found on the collision repair facility's property two years ago.
"Not only was this collision repair facility allegedly changing VIN numbers, but it appears to be licensed as a stuctural inspection station and as an OMVIC member," says John Norris, Executive Director of Collision Industry Information Assistance. "This is a sophisticated operation. It is a sad day for this industry and the used car sales industry whenever these activities are identified as these allegations diminish this industry's reputation and its image with consumers and insurers."
Det. Sgt. Lou Malbeuf of the York Regional Police Auto Cargo Theft Unit says the police began their investigation when they were alerted to suspicious paperwork for vehicles that had supposedly been imported into Canada from New York State. Police started tracking down those cars and found that some of the vehicles had their VINs removed, replaced with fake VINs and sold through the alleged chop shop.
"Information came in over the last six months, and everywhere we went, Collision World's name was all over it," says Malbeauf. "Thieves today are more sophisticated. We see cars stolen in a lot of different ways, dupicating keys, stolen off of tow trucks. All they need is one guy who knows how to do all this."
One of the cars recovered was a customized Mustang that had been reported stolen less than a week before. The vehicle had already had its VIN removed and been