By Abankula with agency reports
Cities in North America, such as Toronto in Canada, Baltimore and New York in United States said they have intercepted many stolen vehicles bound to be exported to Nigeria, Ghana and other West African countries.
Over 900 of the vehicles stolen by auto-theft syndicates, have been intercepted in the last year.
The vehicles, such as Lexus, Honda are stolen from residential driveways in Toronto and driven to the port for shipment.
York and Toronto police in a statement said they made a “large” recovery of 73 stolen cars worth more than $4.5 million in a joint investigation with the Canada Border Services Agency.
Before the recovery, investigators said 32 stolen vehicles have already been shipped overseas to either Ghana or Nigeria.
The investigation began in September, 2020, when authorities became aware of a gang of thieves allegedly targeting Lexus, Toyota and Honda cars and operating out of a location on Kitimat Rd. in Mississauga, according to police.
The Toronto Police Service Auto Theft Suppression Unit and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), were involved in the investigation.
Investigators were able to identify four people involved in the theft and trafficking of vehicles and have made multiple arrests and laid charges.
They are Abu Sadiq Ayi, 41; Michael Atta, 32; Prince Boateng, 42; and David Ansong 40 — all of Toronto.
They face multiple charges including theft of a motor vehicle.
According to a statement by Sergeant Andy Pattenden of York Police, the men are being charged with
*Trafficking in Property Obtained by Crime Over$5,000
*Theft of Motor Vehicle Over $5,000
*Possession of Property Obtained by Crime Over $5,000
*Possession of Automobile Master Key
*Theft of Motor Vehicle
“Auto theft is of huge concern to police,” Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner told the Toronto Sun.
“And we’re actively involved in investigations and targeting groups that are involved in these particular crimes.
“They’re organized crime groups and they’re going out and stealing these vehicles and, in a lot of cases, they’re being put in containers and shipped off to other countries. And we’re finding more and more of this is taking place. Money drives a lot of these crimes.”
“Our investigators have been working tirelessly to identify those responsible for the many thefts of high-end vehicles in York Region,” said York Regional Police Chief Jim MacSween.
In Baltimore United States, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Baltimore field office have also busted a car theft syndicate.
They stopped 157 stolen cars from being shipped overseas during the past fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2019 through Sept. 30, 2020).
The Baltimore Field Office ranks second in the number of vehicles intercepted during that time.
Only the New York field office recovered more.
The Baltimore Field Office covers the Port of Baltimore and the Port of Wilmington in Delaware.
The total value of the vehicles was $4,876,000.
Reports said 37 of the vehicles were stolen from Maryland. 16 others were stolen from Virginia.
Nationally, the Office of Field Operations recovered 1,082 stolen vehicles, of which 833 were destined overseas.
Most of the vehicles were being shipped to countries Benin, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
The most expensive recovered stolen vehicle was a 2019 Land Rover Range Rover, it was destined for Guinea.
The newest vehicle recovered was a 2020 Maserati Ghibli valued at $78,485.
The number of stolen car interceptions is on the increase, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
For example, the Baltimore field office cited a significant rise in the past three years. They recovered 100 stolen cars in 2018, a record 246 in 2019, and 157 this year.
That compares with just 41 stolen cars recovered in 2015, 14 in 2016, and 43 in 2017.