Toronto Star ePaper

ServiceOntario employees charged after police bust auto theft ring


Seven GTA residents, including ServiceOntario employees, are accused of taking part in a major auto theft ring that involved widespread identity theft.

Some 73 charges were laid in the police investigation, called Project Safari, which began in February 2023.

“As the project progressed, investigators learned that suspects were conspiring with employees at ServiceOntario, who were trafficking in driving and vehicle data taken from the Ministry of Transportation database,” Toronto police said in a prepared statement.

Police say that ServiceOntario employees provided criminals with vehicle and driver information, including their addresses.

Thieves would then steal the vehicles, while employees at ServiceOntario provided them with bogus vehicle registrations and vehicle identification numbers (VINs).

The fraudulent VINs were placed on the stolen vehicle through a process called “reVINing,” police said. This made the stolen vehicles appear legitimate.

Police say investigators located and recovered several stolen and re-VINed vehicles, along with equipment, tools and electronics used in the crime.

The investigation resulted in the seizure of $1.5 million in proceeds of crime, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and several luxury vehicles, police said.

Charges against the accused include breach of trust, trafficking in identity information, identity theft, tampering with a vehicle identification number, obstructing a police officer and making an automobile master key.

ServiceOntario did not immediately respond to a request for comment.





Toronto Star Newspapers Limited